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South Korea Gives Norks a Taste of Belligerence

The North Koreans aren’t the only people on the divided peninsula bragging about their new weapons. South Korea says their latest cruise missiles are precise enough to target the window of the North Korean leader’s office. Reuters reports:

South Korean officials declined to say the exact range of the missile but said it could hit targets anywhere in North Korea.

The Defence Ministry released video footage of the missiles being launched from destroyers and submarines striking mock targets. The weapon was previewed in April last year and officials said deployment was now complete.

Expect a tantrum from Pyongyang. According to North Korean rules, they can furiously insult everybody on earth but take great umbrage when anybody says anything about them that isn’t nice. Knowing this, most countries ignore fiery rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang. South Korea’s new President doesn’t want to play this game and is raising the rhetorical stakes. Expect some push-back from the north; inter-Korean relations may go into the deep freeze for some time.

This has to be frustrating for China. When relations between the two Koreas are quiet, South Koreans often focus on their differences with Japan and the U.S. But when North Korea is troublesome and China is seen as supporting it, South Korean opinion tilts heavily away from Beijing. With tensions in the region so high, China does not want Korea to be pushed into the arms of its old Cold War allies, but that, for the moment, is what appears to be happening.

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