Korean crisis: Could war be next?
All eyes have been on the Korean peninsula throughout the weekend, as South Korea’s planned military exercises received warnings from North Korea that a brutal response would immediately follow.
The drills – involving 20 American soldiers, raising speculation about the US playing a dangerous game of their own – went ahead on the Korean maritime border Island of Yeonpyeong, sending residents to bunkers and disregarding Russia’s calls to avoid provocation.
The same island came under attack a month ago, when on November 23rd four people were killed in artillery shelling from the North.
In New York, the UN Security Council met in an emergency sessions called by Russia. Russia had been circulating a draft document calling for restraint from all sides involved, as well as inviting the UN Secretary General to send special envoys both to Seoul and Pyongyang to monitor the situation and avoid further escalation.
“There may be a serious aggravation of tension – a serious conflict for that matter – so in the big chamber when we were at this private meeting, which was also, of course, asked for by the Russian Federation, we reiterated the call for restraint on both parties in no uncertain terms,” said Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin.
Another document was proposed to the Security Council, backed by the US, the document called for the international community to strongly condemn North Korea’s provocations.
Following North Korea’s pull-back from possible aggression, December 20th brought a pause in negotiations at the United Nations.
South and North Korea have been in a state of tension for the last 60 years, with these recent tensions being the last in a series of fluctuations between Seoul and Pyongyang, sending shivers of concern throughout the international community.