* Note: Korean scholars' website,"Truth about the Cheonan' was recently launched.
* 노트: 한국 학자들의 웹사이트, '천안함의 진실,' 최근 나옴.
국문: 천안함 사태 이후 한반도 정세_서보혁(참여연대 평화군축센터 실행위원)은 여기를 클릭하세요.
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
# The below article was presented at the GPPAC-NEA Int’l Conference (15-16/10/2010, Ulaanbaatar).
State of Affairs on the Korean Peninsula after the Cheonan Incident
Suh, Bo-hyuk (PSPD, South Korea)
On the evening of March 26, 2010, a South Korean Navy’s 1,200t frigate Cheonan sank off the country's west coast—the waters controlled by the South Korean Navy, between Baengnyeong and Daecheong Island—killing 46 out of 104 personnel on board. The ROK government recovered the hull and formed a Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG), and has since investigated the cause of the incident. On May 20, 2010, government has finally concluded that “the Cheonan had been sunk by the North Korean torpedo attack.” Subsequently on May 24, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak released a public statement clarifying that “the Cheonan sinking had been committed by North Korea (DPRK),” and that South Korea “will firmly deal with the situation” so that the DPRK will “pay proper consequences for her action.”
1. South Korea’s Sanctions against North Korea and the Consequences
The May 24th public statement has illuminated that South Korea’s policy on defense and diplomacy as along with policies toward North Korea will shift considerably after the incident. First, policies on defense and security have intensified in the direction of imposing sanctions against North Korea, particularly since the presidential statement was released. At a joint press conference with Minister of Reunification, Minister of Diplomacy and Minister of Defense, Minister of Diplomacy Yoo Myung-hwan said that “[the South Korean government] will respond with all possible diplomatic measures in close cooperation with her allies, friends, major states concerned as well as international organizations.” Minister Yoo moreover alluded to imposing additional embargos, i.e. prohibition on entering, investing in, and sending aid to the DPRK. Amidst doubts surrounding the South Korean government’s official report on the investigation, the Lee administration has mobilized all possible economic, military, psychological and diplomatic measures to sanction North Korea. Since inauguration, the top priority task of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula has been overlooked. Sprouted by the Cheonan sinking, MB’s punitive policy against North Korea has quickly become a top priority for policy agenda. Amidst his efforts was securing cooperation of China and Russia as well as ratification of a punitive resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
MB’s “Cheonan diplomacy” primarily required a strong support from the United States which would then buttress other diplomatic efforts. A “2+2” ministerial conference on defense and diplomacy was held for the first time between the two nations to display the bilateral collaboration. However, American support came at an expense. On June 24, 2010, President Lee met with President Barack Obama at the fourth G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada. President Obama expressed particular interest in discussing the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by affirming, “When we visit Korea in November we wish to make a leap forward and to submit the agreement to the Congress in just a few months’ time.” Accordingly, President Lee replied that “South Korea welcomes President Obama’s proposition.” President Lee moreover said that “the ROK agrees entirely with the UN resolution on denuclearization of Iran, and it wishes to actively participate in the implementation process.” In case South Korea joins the collective effort against Iran, the nation’s economic and diplomatic cost is expected to be high. Thus so far, the U.S. has displayed full support for the Lee administration’s embargos against the DPRK, seeking in return South Korea’s cooperation in the re-negotiation of the Korea-U.S. FTA, joint embargo against Iran, dispatching of troops to Afghanistan, etc.