June 18, 1999
KOREAN PENINSULA: VIEWS ON YELLOW SEA 'GUN BATTLE,' SUNSHINE POLICY, PERRY VISIT
The tense, ten-day standoff in the Yellow Sea between North and South Korea--which resulted in the sinking of a North Korean torpedo boat and a number of North Korean casualties three days ago--commanded the attention of media commentators in Seoul and a handful of others in Asia and in Europe who sought to come to grips with Pyongyang's "mysterious provocations." The incursions by North Korean fishing boats into the crab-rich waters of a disputed fishing zone between the North and the South, coming just two weeks after former Defense Secretary Perry's visit to Pyongyang, prompted editors in South Korea to debate the value of their government's Sunshine Policy toward North Korea, and moved others to examine whether the North's actions were a "call for help" or a ploy designed to limit efforts--by the U.S. and others--to "open" North Korea to the outside world. Some analysts wondered if the confrontation would lead to a suspension of the two-party talks between North and South Korea scheduled to take place in Beijing on Monday. A number of writers expressed the hope that China and the U.S. could overcome the current irritants in Sino-U.S. relations and work together to help ease the tensions between Seoul and its "unpredictable" neighbor to the north.
SOUTH KOREAN PRESS, DEBATING SUNSHINE POLICY, NORTH'S MOTIVES: In the immediate aftermath of the confrontation with Pyongyang--the first armed naval clash between North and South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 war--a number of South Korean papers questioned the merits of President Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy of engagement with the North. Over time, however, Seoul dailies of all political stripes, while cautioning that the South's military should remain vigilant, endorsed the idea that "all channels for dialogue" with the North should remain open. Summing up the typical view, business-oriented Joong Ang Ilbo judged: "Security and the Sunshine Policy should go together. Let's not...create a false, warlike mood."
VIEWS FROM THE HERMIT KINGDOM: Pyongyang's official KCNA's Internet website was replete with charges of "reckless military provocations" on the part of South Korea, which the news service depicted as "deliberate," "planned" moves to drive the situation "to the brink of war." Shortly after Mr. Perry's four-day sojourn in Pyongyang, KCNA ran a series of releases saying that "corrupt capitalist ideas" cannot be "tolerated, even in the least," lest they set off "cultural poisoning" and a "resurgence of saboteurs and destructive elements."
OTHER PERSPECTIVES: Observers in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Europe aired various theories about North Korea's possible motives, the role that China might play in easing tensions, and the level of the threat posed by Pyongyang. Tokyo's liberal Asahi welcomed the U.S. and China's "joining hands" to urge the two Koreas to "exercise restraint." German pundits opined that North Korea uses provocations in order to get the assistance that it "urgently needs." "This may sound bizarre," said Berlin's centrist Der Tagesspiegel, "but thus far, Pyongyang has been successful in talks with the West only when it acted as an unpredictable warmonger."
PERRY VISIT TO PYONGYANG; 'RESULTS UNCLEAR': Mr. Perry's visit to North Korea, which one Indian paper said "could revamp the regional security landscape," was widely viewed as yielding "unclear" results.
This survey is based on 42 reports from 11 countries, May 25 - June 18.
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
NORTH KOREA: "South Korea's Military Provocations Failed"
Pyongyang's official Korean Central New Agency's (KCNA) Internet edition had this piece (6/16): "The spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland released a statement today denouncing the South Korean authorities for bringing the situation of the country to a hair-trigger crisis by committing reckless military provocations against the DPRK. The statement says: '[South Korea's] grave military provocations came at a time when the United States, having changed 'Operation Plan 5027,' a war scenario for aggression on the DPRK, into a more bellicose one, finished off its preliminary war, a test war in Yugoslavia under the simulated condition of emergencies on the Korean peninsula. This shows that preparations of the South Korean authorities for a war of aggression on the North have entered into the stage of its ignition.... The United States and [its] stooges must clearly know that if they finally unleash a new war, the aggressors and provokers will be burned to death in the flame kindled by themselves.'"
"South Korean Warships Fire At KPA Navy Warships"
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency's (KCNA) Internet version had this item (6/15): "South Korean warships bumped against warships of the navy of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and fired bullets and shells at them and sank one of them in the North side's territorial waters.... The armed provocation committed against our warships by the South Korean authorities, who have aggravated the situation in the territorial waters of the North's side in the Yellow Sea of Korea almost every day from June 4, is an unbearable insult and military challenge to us. It is entirely thanks to the high patience and self-restraint of our people's army soldiers that the enemy's armed provocations in the Yellow Sea of Korea have not developed into an overall war.... The reckless military provocations by the South Korean rulers are deliberate and planned ones aimed at driving the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of war. The South Korean rulers must immediately apologize for the serious consequences of their armed provocations. They must not run amok, clearly mindful that if military provocations are continued, they will meet a thousand-fold retaliatory blow."
"Corrupt Capitalist Ideas Intolerable Under Socialism"
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency's Internet edition featured this item (6/1) among a series of releases on "corrupt capitalist ideas," saying: "The corrupt capitalist idea, the ideology and culture of imperialism, should never be allowed in socialist society, stresses a joint article published by Rodong Sinmun and the magazine Kulloja [organs of the Workers Party Central Committee] on June 1. It is the truth proven by history that a socialist society cannot exist when the corrupt capitalist idea is tolerated even in the least.... Once the imperialist ideological and cultural poisoning is tolerated, even the faith unshakable before threat of bayonet will be bound to give in like a wet mud-wall.... The imperialist ideological and cultural poisoning is bound to be followed by the appearance of counter-revolutionary elements...[and a] resurgence of saboteurs and destructive elements."
SOUTH KOREA: "Don't Blame Sunshine Policy"
Kwon Young-bin insisted in business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo (6/18): "It is nothing but emotion speaking to say that the Sunshine Policy, by undercutting the morale of our military, has instigated the recent military provocation from the North.... Nor is it sound to believe that by pursuing the Sunshine Policy we are not getting anything in return.... Some continue to criticize our continuation of Mt. Kumkang tourism and the pursuit of vice ministerial-level talks with the North, but the truth is that we have to leave open all channels of dialogue. This is all the more true when tensions are high....
"Security and the Sunshine Policy should go together. Let's not fan public opinion to create a false, warlike mood."
"North Korea's Two Faces"
Washington correspondent Chung Yon-joo noted in independent Hankyoreh Shinmun (6/18): "In the wake of the naval standoff off the west coast, people are blaming the Sunshine Policy for everything that has gone wrong. On the contrary, the episode was a reminder to us of how important dialogue and, therefore, the policy of engagement is.... After all, our North Korea policy should not be led by our hatred toward the North or weighed by domestic political interests. Our brethren in the North are waiting for our help, and this is one of the big reasons we should not give up the Sunshine Policy."
"Careful Engagement Needed"
Seoul National University Professor Noh Kyong-soo recommended in moderate Hankook Ilbo (6/18): "Following the naval standoff with North Korea, the government has a few things to do. First, it has to reassure us that our North Korea policy is based completely on security, and that we are always ready to respond militarily to any North Korean provocations and to sever our aid. Second, the government needs to increase its defense budget to modernize and reinforce our military.... It has to be noted once again that our policy should be based on the principle of reciprocity.... We need a new policy based on a careful strategy, rather than mere optimism."
"Engagement Should Remain Intact"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo argued (6/17): "In the wake of the naval standoff off the west coast, some Koreans are demanding that the Sunshine Policy be re-evaluated. Despite this, our belief remains that the overall direction of our policy, which is aimed at getting rid of the existing cold-war regime, should continue unchanged.... The vice-ministerial level talks scheduled in Beijing should take place as planned.... Our lesson from all this is that the policy of engagement has to continue while we maintain our readiness to fight back any military provocations from the North."
"Unconditional Engagement Is Not the Way"
Seoul National University Professor Ha Young-sun told readers of conservative Chosun Ilbo (6/17): "Just as North Korea has been selectively engaging with us--by not entirely deserting its goals to become a military power while simultaneously taking advantage of its economic relations with us--we, too, would be better off if we applied a selective engagement policy by continuing humanitarian aid but adopting an 'anti-engagement' policy when political and military tensions are provoked by the North. A hard-line blockade policy could increase tensions, but an unrealistic engagement policy could cause a result just as tragic."
"Standoff And Engagement Policy"
Kyungnam University Professor Ryu Gil-jae held in moderate Hankook Ilbo (6/17): "Though the engagement policy may not be the best option, it surely is an inevitable choice for us because forcing North Korea into change would never work.... Also, we should not expect this policy to produce results quickly.... The lesson is that we must stand firm against North Korean provocations, while we continue humanitarian economic aid."
"Engagement Policy Should Not Be Changed"
Independent Hankyoreh Shinmun asserted (6/17): "It was the right thing for the government to declare that its engagment policy will continue....
"The policy may not be politically popular because it requires patience, and tangible results are difficult to achieve. The government seems even foolish to want to go ahead with that policy when something as grave as this recent naval standoff broke out.... The reason we support the engagement policy, however, is that we have no other option to pursue if we want to reduce the chances of a war and open up the road toward harmony with the North.... Some may think the engagement policy has not produced tangible results, but that is not true. The public has become more confident than ever that this policy will not force our relations with the North into a catastrophe."
"A Balanced Sunshine Policy Needed"
Readers of business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo saw this editorial (6/17): "Although the Sunshine Policy has its problems, the two pillars of that policy--security and rapprochement--should remain intact.... The danger, however, is we could lose our flexibility if we remain obsessed with the rapprochement part of the policy.... Just as our aid should be based on the principle of reciprocity, excessive economic aid to North Korea would hurt the policy's validity.... Our readiness to demonstrate our firm stance by promptly severing aid in response to a military provocation by the North is important.... The Sunshine Policy will be effective only when it is applied with flexibility."
"Should Sunshine Policy Continue?"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo had this editorial (6/16): "[South Korea's] Sunshine Policy...has...caused the North to misjudge the situation.... Through the policy we had wanted to draw the North into a dialogue. That is why we are paying expensive dollars to tour Mt. Kumkang and providing fertilizer. In return for all this, however, the North has responded with an act of provocation. We find ourselves dismayed.... The military clash off the west coast sends an ominous signal for peace on the Korean peninsula."
"Gunfire Should Stop"
Kim Young-hee remarked in business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo (6/16): "The real problem...is not the [Sunshine] Policy itself, but the way we pursue it. The Kim administration's foreign policy team has been too dependent upon behind-the-scene contacts with the North, and President Kim himself has been too aggressive in trying to produce tangible results.... He needs to slow down his pace while sticking to the line of that policy.... We are furious with the North.... The truth, however, is that jingoism will only make the situation more dangerous.... All channels of dialogue should be opened.... Our allies, the United States and China in particular, should conduct diplomatic efforts to stop the standoff."
"How To Stop Situation From Growing Worse"
Conservative Sejong Institute fellow, Lee Chong-suk, judged in independent Dong-A Ilbo (6/16): "The North may be trying to crush the support Korea is getting for its engagement policy from the international community. If not, it must be attempting to increase its chances of opening a direct dialogue with the United States. Or it may have simply wanted to ensure that the Northern Limit Line remains in dispute.... The Korean government must move forward and stick to a consistent policy of engagement."
"North Korea Should Stop Provocations"
Business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo asserted (6/16): "It must be made clear once again that...the very basis of our position is that the existing cease-fire remains in place.... The North's provocations will only make...President Kim's Sunshine Policy more shaky."
"Principle, Most Important At Meeting With North Korea"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo insisted (6/15): "Public trust in the government's pursuit of the Sunshine Policy will only be eroded if the government fails to get the North to apologize for the intrusions.... It may well be that the North is trying to nullify the existing cease-fire so that it can open a peace treaty with the United States. Korea issues must be resolved between the two Koreas, a position supported by our allies. North Korea should know this."
"Time To Check Our Readiness For Defense"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo pointed out (6/14): "The repeated intrusions by North Korean patrol boats into our territorial waters tell us how careless we have become with regard to our readiness to correctly understand what is going on.... North Korea is testing us again, taking full advantage of our carelessness. At this juncture, we have to ask if the Korean government blindly continues to believe that the Sunshine Policy alone can defend the nation from North Korean threats, and also if the opposition party can provide any alternatives.... Korea should forgo its obsessive optimism over the Sunshine Policy."
"[North Korean Official] Kim Young-nam's Visit To China"
Korea University Professor Ahn In-hae reasoned in business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo (6/9): "Current relations between the United States and China, seen deteriorating these days, will not affect North Korea much. Pyongyang knows its relations with the United States are critical to maintaining its regime, and for that reason, it will continue to be careful with the United States.... At this juncture, Seoul does not have to be nervous about the prospect of quickly improved relations between China and North Korea. This is because China will not try to create a new, post-Cold War regime of confrontation in this region, although it appears to be cultivating relations with Pyongyang and Moscow. In fact, Pyongyang's good relations with China will serve to rid the Korean Peninsula of its existing Cold-War regime."
"Inter-Korean Relations After Perry's Visit"
Former Korean Ambassador to the United States, Kim Kyong-won, judged in conservative Chosun Ilbo (6/2): "As we had expected, the results of Perry's visit are unclear.... [But] the visit is a symbolic indication that the United States recognizes the North.... The North will continue to both maintain the stability of its regime and seek economic benefits by pursuing different tracks of diplomacy with the United Statse and Korea. This means that the North will have to further cooperate with the United States on nuclear weapons and missile issues.... As far as the Sunshine Policy is concerned, Korea does not have to give that up. The North's acceptance of that policy should not be the goal. We just want to open that society. All this said, Perry's visit to Pyongyang was not all that disappointing. The important thing is to continue efforts to open that country, even though it has to be done through the United States."
"Reason For North Korea's Hospitality Toward Perry"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo (5/31) editorialized: "North Korea was exceptionally hospitable to Perry during his visit, and the Korean government positively evaluated the outcome of the visit. This said, it appears that Seoul will pursue the 'comprehensive negotiating plan' the United States, Japan and Korea agreed to with more enthusiasm than before. This new confidence the Seoul government finds in the 'comprehensive plan' is also based on the nature of the attention Perry received from the North's military leaders.... However, it would be hasty to further push the comprehensive policy at a time when the North's real intentions are not clear.... After all, the North may have been merely enticing the United States, rather than opening itself up."
"Clinton, As A Lame Duck, Won't Push Enough"
Washington correspondent Park Doo-shik of conservative Chosun Ilbo (5/31) observed: "The U.S.' North Korea policy appeared to be drifting when Perry was appointed coordinator of the policy. Now with his project approaching conclusion, the greatest source of concern is whether the aim of his mission has been achieved. That is to say whether he has fully reviewed America's policy and is ready to recommend long-term and effective measures, and whether his project has recreated a sense of direction for North Korea policy. At present, the answers are not clear, and such prospects are not promising.... One of the problems is the prospect of the Clinton administration becoming a lame duck, a situation in which the United States won't be able to provide the 'critical leadership' required to pursue what Perry recommends.... If the negotiating part of Perry's recommendations falls to working-level officials of the State Department, we will certainly lose whatever momentum has been created by Perry's project.... Already, if gradually, the political atmosphere in Washington is moving in a direction where it cannot fully concentrate on the pursuit of an engagement policy toward the North. That leaves Seoul at the forefront of that policy. However, the North still refuses to consider Seoul as a partner for dialogue."
"What Perry's Visit Did Not Answer"
Business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo held (5/31): "Thanks to Perry's visit to North Korea, the possibility of new dialogue on the Korean Peninsula is being talked about, and to support this, it has been reported that North Korea responded to the 'comprehensive plans' with enthusiasm.... In fact, Perry's review of Washington's North Korea policy marks a critical turning point which would constitute a new step toward better relations with the North, going beyond the scope of the 1994 nuclear agreement between the United States and the North. Even for our own purposes, Perry's project is important, as it will help us to determine whether our engagement policy will ever work or if we need an entirely new policy.... What is troubling though is that in Seoul, Perry did not say anything specific. The contents of his briefing about his visit to North Korea not only were too brief but focused only on U.S.-North Korea issues. He offered no word about the inter-Korean dialogue."
CHINA: "Peace Serves Interests Of DPRK, ROK"
Zhao Huanxin said in official English-language China Daily (6/18): "'China hopes the efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula will be continued,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said yesterday.... 'China hopes the two sides will continue the process of improving their relations, because maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula serves the fundamental interests of both sides,' Zhang said."
"Will North, South Korea Start Large-Scale Military Clashes?"
Piao Guoming and Chen Juncai predicted in official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao,6/17): "Although the situation on the Korean Peninsula may further deteriorate in the near future, a large-scale military clash seems nearly impossible.... Just as the South Korean media indicated, economic interests are probably the primary reason for the ongoing conflict.... Since the two sides are of the same ethnic origin, settling the dispute should not be so difficult."
"Regional Security Concerns"
Peng Tingjian noted in official, Chinese Youth Party China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao, 6/17): "If the Korean Peninsula conflict cannot be restrained, it will directly threaten regional security and stability in Northeast Asia."
"Crossfire Between North, South Korea In Yellow Sea"
Peng Tingjian noted in official China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao, 6/16): "North Korean and South Korean navy ships exchanged fire yesterday.... According to international analysts, this incident of 'invasion of territorial sea' under dispute is, in large part, due to the two sides' different opinions on the 'northern boundary' of the Yellow Sea."
JAPAN: "North, South Korea Must Play It Cool"
Liberal Asahi remarked (6/17): "Significantly...the United States and China...joined hands in persuading North and South Korea to exercise restraint. From this American-Chinese cooperation, we can sense that a subtle change is taking place in the international situation over the Korean Peninsula. We welcome signs that North and South Korea are moving toward resuming their vice-ministerial meeting. The two Koreas will have to take advantage of the meeting to strengthen mutual dialogue."
"South, North Korea Have To Settle Clash Based On Basic Accord"
An editorial in liberal Mainichi observed (6/16): "Patrol boats from the North and the South have played a tense game of cat and mouse in the contested waters for more than a week.... American and South Korean diplomatic and security officials, dismissing the naval clash as accidental, wondered whether it had been a well calculated and intentional act on the part of the North. Views are divided among the officials, however, over what was Pyongyang's true aim and motive. Experts in South Korea and Japan all agree that the North Koreans are trying to create an environment for concluding a peace treaty with the United States, replacing the cease-fire agreement of 1953. This cease-fire accord defines cease-fire lines on the ground, but does not specify the maritime demarcation line between the divided Koreas, 'leaving room' for the North to say it does not violate the agreement even if it crosses into South Korean waters. Speculation is rife that North Korea initiated the naval clash with the South to shed light on what it calls the defects of the cease-fire accord and to stress the need to conclude a peace treaty. It is very regrettable, however, that no swift measures have yet been taken based on the basic North-South Korean accord to deal with and resolve the naval incident."
"China, North Korea To Better Relations But..."
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai pointed out (6/3): "China and North Korea will resume summit-level exchanges for the first time in eight years. Given the fact that the China-North Korea relationship has remained cool since China and South Korea normalized their relations in 1992, it is highly unlikely that Beijing and Pyongyang will restore their bilateral relations to the monolithic unity they once enjoyed.... We hope China will contribute to stabilization on the Korean Peninsula by persuading the North to suspend suspected nuclear and missile development programs.... China's close cooperation with the United States, Japan and South Korea will be indispensable to resolving the North Korean issue.... But as long as the United States and China remain at odds [over the embassy bombing and allegations of Chinese nuclear espionage] neither close cooperation between the United States and China nor a solution to the problem can be expected."
"International Relations And Korean Peninsula"
Liberal Asahi observed (6/2): "International relations over the Korean Peninsula are changing as North Korea is trying to improve high-level relations with China while showing flexibility to the United States. China will roll out the red carpet for Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the presidium of the North's Supreme People's Assembly, when he visits Beijing on Thursday. China is hopeful that that Kim Jong Il, the top North Korean leader, will make an official visit to China sooner or later.
"But we should not jump to a hasty conclusion that Kim Yong Nam's visit will help restore bilateral relations to the monolithic unity they once enjoyed. We would rather think Pyongyang is trying to tide over the critical (domestic) situation, while 'balancing' its diplomatic approach toward the United States and China."
"Window Of Opportunity For North Korea"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (5/31): "Upon returning from his four-day visit to North Korea, William Perry, U.S. policy coordinator for North Korea, said in Seoul that he had conveyed to Pyongyang the concerns of Japan, the United States and South Korea over its suspected nuclear and missile development programs. He said the goal of his visit had been achieved. After Dr. Perry's return, the United States, Japan and South Korea issued a joint statement expressing hope for continued dialogue with the North. Despite its outwardly confrontational stance toward the United States, it is clear that Pyongyang eagerly wants to promote its relations with Washington. North Korea nevertheless remains hostile toward the three countries and creates instability in the region, as seen in the development of missiles and the infiltration of spy ships into its neighbors' territorial waters. As long as the North continues to be confrontational, it will not be able to find solutions to various national crises, including the food shortage. Dr. Perry will soon issue a report on the comprehensive approach by the U.S., Japan and South Korea to North Korea. The future of the Korean Peninsula depends on how Pyongyang responds."
INDONESIA: "New Tensions In Korea"
Pro-government, Islamic-oriented Pelita (6/17): "North Korea's willingness to allow inspection of the underground nuclear facilities suspected of violating the Geneva Accords has improved its relations with both South Korea and the United States. When tensions surfaced after the failure of U.S. inspections to prove the allegations, the United States offered only a flat comment without the threat of putting its 37,000 troops in South Korea on alert.... At first glance, the North Korean ships' incursion into South Korean waters seems to hinder the reconciliation process. Other signs indicate that North Korea only seeks to remind the international community that peninsular conflicts will always damage East Asian stability. North Korea seemingly hopes to gain other benefits through its actions, as it is doubtful it is willing to wage war with South Korea. A war will not benefit North Korea. It will only return it to a difficult situation, just as conditions are improving."
"Tension Abates, But Korean Relations Still A Concern"
Leading independent Kompas predicted (6/17): "Tensions have diminished, but--with fundamental issues as yet unresolved--could trigger another incident at any time. The priority given to military options, which may lead to the use of more sophisticated and destructive nuclear capabilities in a future conflict, is cause for concern. President Kim's Sunshine Policy must be hastened to reduce tensions and to address the root problems. The United States, Russia and China, the Cold War powers that created a divided Korea, have a moral duty to help find a solution."
THAILAND: "Trifle In The Yellow Sea"
Pichian Kurathong contended in elite Matichon (6/18): "The South Korean people...as well as [their] government, know very well that North Korea is so destitute it is unable to finance a war. Consequently, there is no panic in South Korea and no declaration of a state of emergency whatsoever.... By propagating the belief of North Korea's far superior capability in...launching missiles and satellites, is the West--and particularly the United States--trying to use scare tactics?
"The aim is nothing more than trying to herd these cows to come under the U.S. umbrella, which has proved workable especially in the case of the Japanese cow, which came out to rail at length at North Korea."
INDIA: "Sino-U.S. Tension Affects Perry Mission"
Tokyo correspondent F.J. Khergamvala opined in the nationalist Hindustan Times (5/25): "Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry is in Japan before flying to North Korea on Wednesday on a mission that could revamp the regional security landscape.... The Perry mission's primary purpose is to contain and engage the Kim Jong Il regime and offer it the right carrots and sticks. A package of incentives has been worked out behind the scenes by Japan, the United States and South Korea. It will probably include a committed normalization of ties with the United States and easing of economic sanctions.... The big question is whether North Korea will agree to the terms set forth for receiving these benefits from the United States and others....
"The re-evolving Sino-U.S. relationship in the aftermath of the Chinese Embassy attack will be an important factor in how North Korea formulates its response. There is little doubt that the U.S. bombing of the embassy, and its subsequent media orchestrated pillorying of China, has strengthened the hawks in China, notably those from the Peoples Liberation Army.... Perry has several balls to juggle. He must address the demands of the political season in the United States; present a hawkish picture to Republicans and South Korean hawks; look like a dove to South Korean doves; take into account Japan's firm intent to play a more assertive role; get Pyongyang to make promises to Japan on missiles; ensure North Korea is not driven back to China's arms; bring China into the fold of a coordinated policy and, not the easiest of tasks, bridge differences between the three closest allies--the United States, Japan and South Korea.... Once the United States decides on a policy for Pyongyang, it is likely the others involved will tailor theirs accordingly, at least publicly."
GERMANY: "Gunboat Policy As A Cry For Help"
Beijing correspondent Harald Maass filed this editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (6/17): "Since the collapse of the planned economy, North Korea has been fighting for its survival.... In order to guarantee the survival of its people, Pyongyang urgently needs assistance from the West. But in order to get this support, North Korea must present itself as a possible danger. This may sound bizarre, but thus far, Pyongyang has been successful in talks with the West only when it acted as an unpredictable warmonger.... Pyongyang's military provocations are less a threatening gesture than a call for help. Obviously, the situation of the North Koreans has deteriorated to such a degree that the rulers in Pyongyang want to exert military pressure to get new food supplies from the countries abroad.... Pyongyang is also confused about the policy of rapprochement initiated by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. After four decades of cold war, the North feels uneasy about and threatened by Kim's Sunshine Policy. In order to keep the starving people together, Pyongyang needs an enemy today more than ever. And if this enemy is too friendly, North Korea just fires at him."
"Gun Boat Policy"
Werner Adam said in an editorial in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/16): "Among the trouble spots that create the greatest problems in international politics is the Korean peninsula....
"It is striking that the current gun boat policy in the Yellow Sea coincides with increased U.S. and South Korean efforts to convince North Korea to accept a policy of understanding. For the first time, representatives of both Koreas are planning to meet in Beijing next week to discuss a policy for the reunion of families. In addition, Washington has offered Pyongyang the suspension of economic sanctions. But the North Korean military seems to dislike an opening of their country to such an extent that it is obviously trying to torpedo such a development. Nevertheless, with such a policy, these generals with their mysterious ruler Kim Jong Il at the top will never achieve what they have called for time and again: the withdrawal of the 37,000 U.S. forces who are trying to prevent the worst along the 38th parallel."
"Korea, Crises, And Guns"
Gebhard Hielscher concluded in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/16): "As far as military aspects are concerned, the South came out of this naval clash as the winner. This is important for the self-perception of the South Koreans toward a provocateur whose military strength is hard to assess, but whose aggressive bluster shows no limits. How will North Korea react to this defeat? Pyongyang would be well advised to avoid further escalation and to withdraw its warships from the controversial waters.... The controversy about the territory could then be resolved politically. The upcoming talks between North and South Korea in Beijing could offer a first opportunity."
"Dangerous Pin Pricks"
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin carried this editorial (6/16): "The initiative for the escalation came even more than in the past from Pyongyang. The South Korean economic power hardly needs a naval clash in the Yellow Sea to improve its prestige.... This time, the demonstration of strength also served to influence the upcoming Korea talks in Beijing. These clashes are only pin pricks, since the administrators of hunger and deprivation...are hardly able to accomplish much. But sooner or later, such clashes could get out of control, since North Korea's nuclear weapons plans are certainly no invention of Western intelligence services."
BELGIUM: "Risky Game On Asian Chess Board"
Foreign affairs writer Francis Van den Berghe said in independent Catholic De Standaard (6/16): "The Communist leaders in Pyongyang are obsessed by what they term an Asian Cold War in the offing in which they would be confronted--together with China--by the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The fact that more and more voices are being raised in the United States branding China as the number-one rival in the next century is corroborating their belief. The same can be said of U.S. plans to install an anti-missile shield in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. With its recent missile tests, North Korea wanted to make it clear that it wants to play a role in this game. The North Korean leaders have found a listening ear in Beijing for that problem."
HUNGARY: "Korea: Mysterious Provocations"
Conservative Napi Magyarorszag mused (6/15): "Speculation has arisen as to why North Korea has provoked South Korea.... The most probable explanation is that Pyongyang wants to divert local political attention from the deteriorating domestic food shortage through increasing the tension.... Another view is that through provocations the North Korean administration wanted to test the reactions from the South. A third theory suggests that provocation was needed for Pyongyang in order to be able to offer compromises during the upcoming negotiations."
TURKEY: "A Fight In The Yellow Sea"
Zafer Atay stressed in economic/political Dunya (6/17): "Everybody is fed up with North Korea's attitude. For instance, the United States provides thousands of tons of food to North Korea even though it has no diplomatic relations with the country. In return, North Korea labels the United States with every possible negative insinuation.... How will the fight end in the Yellow Sea? As in the past, North Korea will remain silent for a while, then it will start accusing South Korea, then it will even accuse the CIA of plotting the whole thing.... Finally, North Korea will again revert to silence and hope that everything will be forgotten."
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