May 20, 2024

The potential for impending military confrontation in Korea

Future provocations in the West Sea could prove even more dangerous than in the past

Amidst outside speculation that Pyongyang may soon carry out a provocation, North Korea sent propaganda leaflets to the South Korean island of Baengnyeong on Monday, threatening to attack the island. Through its military, North Korea has a very real ability to inflict damage upon Baengnyeong Island, much as it did to Yeonpyeong Island in November of 2010. However, having learned lessons from the 2010 attack, the South Korean government and military are more prepared than they once were.  The increased readiness of the Republic of Korea military could deter the North but it also raises the potential for escalation if the North attacks anyway.

Recent events in North Korea, particularly the ouster of Jang Song Taek, have led to speculation that the regime may engage in a provocation of one form or another. An attack or demonstration of technical prowess – such as a nuclear weapon or missile test - would be intended to show the strength and control of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. It would also surely draw criticism from the international community, which would be used in propaganda to further rally the support of North Koreans behind the leadership.

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