Last night, my husband and I were talking about what might happen to us if war breaks out between South Korea and North Korea. What sparked such conversation was the exchange of fire between the two Koreas on Monday, March 31, after several artillery shells launched by the North as part of its live-fire drills near the Western Sea Border landed in the South’s territorial waters. There were no casualties (thank God), but residents of nearby islands Baengnyong and Genpink were evacuated to temporary shelters. It is rather unusual for North Korea to inform South Korea of artillery exercises it plans to carry out near the militarized Western Sea, but a few hours before the live-fire drill on Monday, North Korean Army sent South Korean Navy a warning and ordered the country to control its vessels in seven regions near the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The South Korean Defense Ministry considers this move a “hostile threat” and has made it clear in an interview that they are “fully prepared for all situations”. (Hopefully, there will be no need to prepare for something worse.)
Last week, North Korea fired two mid-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan. The U.N. Security Council condemned the launch. As a response to the criticism, North Korea said it will execute “a new form of nuclear test”. South Korea’s Defense Ministry has not yet disclosed any signs of a forthcoming nuclear test, but it said that it continues to closely monitor North Korea’s moves.
This is not the first time North Korea held an instigating military exercise into the waters around the Korean Peninsula.
On November 23, 2010, two marines and two civilians were killed and more than a dozen South Koreans were injured when North Korea bombarded Yeonpyeong Island. The North claimed that the attack was provoked by the South when it refused to cease artillery exercises in the border.
In the same year, a South Korean naval vessel sank near Baengnyeong Island, killing 46 of its crew. According to the South, investigations lead to a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine.
I have heard my husband and his friends talk about the two Koreas. They also talk about the possibility of war or reunification. Every time they talk about these two possibilities, it appears as if war is more likely to happen than for the two countries to reunify. They say that the North’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, is just too adamant, belligerent and stupid to want to make peace with South Korea. He is driven by his desire to prove himself as a great military leader to his people and he will keep provoking the South. On the other hand, South Korea won’t tolerate North Korea’s further onslaught. If worse comes to worst, South Korea is prepared for war. Just recently, the South Korean government signed an agreement with the U.S. that contains new contingency plans on how to respond to North Korea‘s provocations. The agreement is believed to be one of the reasons why the North conducted the live-fire drill on Monday as a form of protest.