Tensions between North and South Korea eased earlier this week. North Korea will apologize for the deaths of two South Korean citizens, and South Korea will stop broadcasting anti-North Korean propaganda.
For the time being, the threat of a military clash on the peninsula has been avoided. “While the risk of an immediate inadvertent military clash has receded, the underlying causes remain in place and the tense status quo remains,” Heritage Foundation expert Bruce Klingner warns.
How did we get here? Klingner sums up the turmoil:
Seoul has reported that North Korea fired several artillery shells into South Korea triggering a South Korean military response by dozens of artillery rounds. The North Korean attack likely was directed at South Korean loudspeakers blaring anti-North Korean propaganda. Earlier this month, Pyongyang vowed “indiscriminate strikes” on South Korea unless Seoul halted the propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ.
North and South Korea have had rocky relations for the last fifty-plus years. This most recent cease-fire stopped a breakout of war, but there have been countless similar efforts over the decades that failed. The only way to maintain peace, Klingner reports, is “through the continued presence of strong and vigilant South Korean and U.S. military forces.”
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