Friday, May 21, 2010

[A Rising South Korea] Talk of war is a good thing... Yes, a good thing...

The odds for North Korea to win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is are set at 1000:1 -- I'm going to have to put down a small wager here. (only New Zealand is being given worse odds at 2000:1.) Though they will have to survive Brazil and Portugal in the first round, they do have two Japanese born, ethnic Korean professional soccer players who have vowed to represent DPRK in the world cup. I hope they can come through. Interestingly enough, I believe the only two Asian "nations" to have gone beyond the first round is, well, made it to the quarterfinals are North Korea (1966) and South Korea (2002). They both made it to the quarterfinals...  

Anyways, talk of war is just people like us realizing that South Korea is definitely taking a leading role in this crisis by internationlizing this incident as it forces China and to an extent the U.S. to address the issue. So here, when we read about 3,000+ articles about the possibility of war, it's actually a good thing. Yes, I'm saying it's a good thing [well, not so much for China] as it puts a giant magnifying glass on both China and obscure, little North Korea. This makes the political and diplomatic price of China supporting North Korea very expensive and, of course, further marginalizes North Korea. But here, just in case this is left to misinterpretation, studies have suggested, such as those by Stephen Haggard and Marcus Noland most recently, that North Korea is losing control over the country on her own and combining their study with their earlier studies, it appears NGOs seem to have almost a neglible role on the flow of refugees. So, I'm not advocating that we should (or there is even a need) to directly try to cause regime change. This was before the currency crisis showed the world how far North Korea had fallen. We should on the other hand be properly prepared to move in soldiers in the event of Kim Jong Il dying before Communist China does...

It's best for the U.S. to show unequivocal public support and sympathy for South Korea, while China stumbles through this mess. I don't think there will be six party talks nor would North Korea be willing to go back to China for a round of six-party talks after a new round of UNSC Sanctions (again, it'll be more of a 5 on 1 forum then). And, just to recall, it cost China at least $2.1 billion for those sanctions and climbing last time around.

Interestingly, if South Korea had not internationalized the incident, I believe as in previous South Korean administrations -- nothing would've happened and Communist China would be able to play a two-Korea policy, while both Koreas adhere to a one-China policy.

But, especially those on the left in South Korea should realize that talk of potential war is really a good thing especially if South Korea continues to experience economic growth rates of 5% or so as it forces the two continental country's to address the issue. It definitely is a good demonstration of how far South Korea has come.

But, of course, if Japan starts to feel capital flight, then it's time to of course get out of Northeast Asia.

But, seriously, with all the rage over North Korea and so much information out there (Google News has 3,433 4,666 similar articles on the Cheonan incident, which is about the same level seen when the health care reform package in the U.S. was passed) that it's hard to know what to believe. But, after reading quite a few editorials, I think South Korea is definitely coming of age. While I continue to believe absolutely nothing beyond the symbolic will be necessary on the part of the U.S. (perhaps a new UNSC resolution if South Korea plays her cards right) and a trip by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should suffice -- and maybe even putting North Korea back on the list of states sponsoring terrorism. But, if South Korea continues to internationalize the issue, the U.S. won't be able to simply just trade away North Korea for Iran to China.

And, on a side note here, China should realize the difference between delivering [the U.S. delivering Taiwan to China] and the image of trying to pretend that they can deliver [six party talks]. They should note that the U.S. looks at Taiwanese independence rather dismally -- of course, the U.S. does placate Taiwanese interests by selling them high end U.S. weaponry.

I wrote earlier about what we should be looking for before Kim Jong Il's visit and again during his visit. This was before any real attention was paid to news of the Cheonan sinking. The two things were:

1) Will there be a new UNSC resolution against North Korea ? [It's looking more and more likely]

2) Will North Korea receive additional aid? [Joongang Ilbo reported no, which news organizations and bloggers around the world picked up on]

The answers appear to be looking as if China is hedging very much against a North Korean collapse after the death of Kim Jong Il and China is looking rather feeble.

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