News / Asia

South Korea Sees North's Threats at Unprecedented Levels

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 2, 2013.South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 2, 2013.
x
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 2, 2013.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, April 2, 2013.
South Korea says it will never accept rival North Korea as a nuclear-weapons state. But there appears to be no international consensus on how to prevent that.

Speaking Tuesday in Seoul, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se characterized Pyongyang's recent belligerent threats as more diverse, frequent and intense than previously seen.

He told a forum organized by the JoongAng newspaper and the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) North Korea is engaged in an unprecedented level of “psychological warfare.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Park Geun-hye depart a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013.U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Park Geun-hye depart a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Park Geun-hye depart a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korea's President Park Geun-hye depart a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, May 7, 2013.
But he added that, despite this, President Park Geun-hye will continue the process of trust-building, which should neither be interpreted as appeasement nor intended to undermine the North Korean leadership.

The foreign minister also cautions that there are limits to what the South will accept.

"To safeguard peace we'll never allow a nuclear-armed North Korea and [will] make sure there is a corresponding price for North Korea's provocations," he said.

Speaking earlier to the same group, former U.S. senator Richard Lugar described the North Korean threat as “global in nature” and not one that should “be defined merely by the range of its missiles.”

The retired chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warns that the Obama administration's policy of “strategic patience” towards Pyongyang cannot continue to be applied indefinitely.

"If it is, strategic patience becomes little more than a policy justification for avoiding the problem and the potential political consequences of making a mistake," he said. "The Obama administration should be sober about what can be accomplished in the short run, but it must be willing to consider a wider range of strategies, even if they carry some risk."

The former senator suggests that responsible leaders take fresh measures to constrain the illicit activities of North Korean trading companies functioning as what he calls “conduits for nuclear proliferation and the dissemination of weapons technology.”

Michael Green, former senior director of Asia on the U.S. National Security Council, is pessimistic further sanctions will fundamentally change the mind of North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong Un, because the essence of the Pyongyang government, as he puts it, is a hybrid Stalinist theocracy and a criminal enterprise.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch in Pyongyang, May 6, 2013. (KCNA)North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch in Pyongyang, May 6, 2013. (KCNA)
x
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch in Pyongyang, May 6, 2013. (KCNA)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Turf Institute of the Bioengineering Branch in Pyongyang, May 6, 2013. (KCNA)
"But with the emphasis on the theocracy being the main source of legitimacy for Kim Jong Un. For precisely that reason it, in my view, could collapse at any time. That makes it, in the long run, quite vulnerable," he said.

Green's CSIS colleague, Victor Cha, also a former Asian policy director at the National Security Council, says preparations must be made for instability in North Korea. Cha contends Pyongyang's decision-makers have "boxed themselves into a corner from which they cannot escape."

"The best scenario is that they continue to rattle the cages, but they don't do anything that might kill people or hurt people. But I'm not so certain that they'll stay in that corner forever and simply shout harmlessly and not do anything that's provocative," he said.

Another former U.S. official told the same gathering that Pyongyang must be given a stark choice. Richard Armitage, who served as U.S. deputy secretary of state from 2001 until 2005, suggests telling North Korea it has to choose between its weapons of mass destruction or regime change.

North Korea is believed to have a small arsenal of nuclear weapons and is developing ballistic missiles that might deliver such bombs a long distance.

It recently vowed a nuclear attack on the United States - a threat which most analysts do not consider viable.

The heightened bellicose rhetoric came amid the North's latest underground nuclear and long-range missile tests, actions banned under United Nations Security Council sanctions.

Since Saturday, North Korea has fired six short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast. Both Seoul and Washington say the latest firings do not appear to violate Pyongyang's international obligations.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid