Korea Crisis Round-Up

Christian Science MonitorNorth Korea says on 'brink of war' as US, South Korea prepare for military exercises: "Officials in North Korea have warned that they are on the brink of war with the South, as the United States and South Korea prepare to conduct a joint training exercise in the Yellow Sea."

Washington PostMany in LA's Koreatown decry island attack: "Residents in the bustling Los Angeles sector that is the largest Korean enclave in the United States are decrying the North Korean attack on a South Korean island as they phone relatives for updates from the country many once called home."

Korea TimesParties diverge over approach to NK:
A day after adopting a bipartisan resolution denouncing North Korea for its deadly attack on Yeonpyeong Island, ruling and opposition legislators sparred Friday over the "right" North Korea policy.

Speaking at an extended party meeting, Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) said "The Lee Myung-bak administration is incapable in terms of security, with no ability to adequately prepare for and respond to a North Korean attack." He added that, "War can never be the solution, and we should follow the way of peace. There is no better security than peace."

Rep. Chung Dong-young, a member of the DP's Supreme Council, said that "The attack on Yeonpyeong Island has proven that the Sunshine Policy is the best policy for ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula." Chung urged the government to shift its North Korea policy.

The DP is affiliated with the late former President Kim Dae-jung who was the architect behind the Sunshine Policy of engaging the North. Despite the bipartisan resolution on North Korea, the main opposition party has consistently been critical of the Lee Myung-bak administration's relatively hard-line stance toward the North.

The ruling opposition Grand National Party (GNP) responded to the DP's criticisms. Rep. Kim Moo-sung, the GNP floor leader said, "We are in a quasi-state of war, and we should be united in what steps we will be taking next."
New York TimesSouth Korea Reassesses Its Defenses After Attack: "Responding to growing public criticism after a deadly North Korean attack, President Lee Myung-bak accepted the resignation of his defense minister on Thursday and announced changes in the military's rules of engagement to make it easier for South Korea to strike back with greater force, especially if civilians are threatened."

CNN—S. Korea names new defense minister amid war rhetoric from the North:
South Korea named a new defense minister Friday to replace the official who resigned Thursday amid heavy criticism due to North Korea's sinking of a warship in March and Tuesday's deadly shelling of an inhabited island.

South Korea's government nominated Kim Kwan Jin as defense minister, a Blue House media official told CNN.

The National Assembly will hold a confirmation hearing before Kim formally takes office.

Former Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, a former general, resigned after coming under heavy criticism for the sinking of the South Korean war ship Cheonan and again after North Korea struck Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday.

The appointment comes amid continued war rhetoric from North Korea, which said Friday that South Korea and the United States are recklessly pushing the Korean peninsula toward war by scheduling a joint military drill for this weekend.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war due to the reckless plan of those trigger-happy elements to stage again the war exercises targeted against [North Korea] in wake of the grave military provocation they perpetrated against the territorial waters of [the North Korean] side in the West Sea," said the North's official KCNA news agency.
A CNN crew were the first western journalists to visit Yeonpyeong Island and examine the destruction.

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