On 26th March 2010, a South Korean navy ship with 104 personnel on board was reportedly sunk on the south coast of the yellow sea near the Baengnyeong Island killing 46 seamen.
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A joint expedition of South Korean, American, Britain, Sweden and Australian experts were deployed to the scene to investigate the cause of the Cheonan sinking. Although there were widespread rumors of the North Korean involvement in the incident, the South Korean government downplayed the allegations and opted to wait for the exclusive report of the investigation.
On the other hand, North Korea denied any involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan and went ahead to issue threats to South Korean government if they considered carrying a revenge attack.
On 20th May 2010 the joint investigating team tabled its report, concluding that the Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo that was launched from a midget submarine. The sinking of the ROKS Cheonan had occurred just a fortnight after the South Korean had a joint simulated exercise that was taunted as being the largest in the world to be carried simultaneously.
The exercise had involved the largest number of soldiers estimated to be around 70,000 and an artillery force that ranged from the latest fighter jets and war ships to the largest number of submarines. According to some analysts, this joint military exercise on the Yellow Sea could have been the motive behind North Korea’s sinking the Chionan as it had previously condemned the exercise, terming it as an inversion of the west and its ally to attack the north.
Effects of the Events between South And North Korea
According to Branigan (Para 4) the consequence of the sinking of the ROKS Chionan in the coming days was dire as it brought the entire Korean peninsula into a brink of war. With increased counter allegation from both sides war was imminent.
On November 23, 2010, While the South Korean navy was engaged in a regular military exercise in their own territorial waters in the south, the North Korean forces launched an assault on the south by launching 170 rockets and shells on the Island of Yeonpyeong, destroying both civilian and military installments, the death toll was four dead and 19 injured.
The South Korean retaliated almost immediately by shelling the North’s strategic gun position and rendering the North Korean security system breached. This incident escalated the already tense situation in the Korean peninsula.
The events that followed after the Yeonpyeong incident and the Cheonan sinking was catastrophic in terms of relations between the two Koreans. For instance the South Korean enforced a trade embargo to the North Koreans. According to Pritchard, Tilelli, and Snyder (19), this translated to economic loses as the North Korea ships were not allowed to use the South Korean’s docks and were denied way of passage. It was estimated that North Korea would lose almost $200 million annually.
On top of these, the South Korean began a psychological war by setting up a propaganda radio station and installing loud speakers in strategic points to enhance the propaganda war. North Korea on the other hand cut off the remaining link with the South Korean and issued a security alert to its army.
Policy Effects to the Two Koreans Countries from the Us
The United States also put stringent policies in relation to the North Korean by initializing a trade and arms embargo and installing an active military exercise in South Korea. This meant that that North Korea could not export arms which constituted a major chunk of its exports.
As for South Korea, the joint military exercise was to act as an insurance policy against North Korea launching any attack. Simply put, the US policies towards North Korea were not favorable while those towards the South were beneficial to the south especially in terms of securing them from the aggressive North.
Branigan, Tania. North Korea threatens South over report on sinking of warship. The Guardian. 20 May 2010. Web. <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/may/20/north-korea-naval-ship-report>
Pritchard Charles, Tilelli John and Snyder Scott. United States policy toward the Korean peninsula: Council on Foreign Relations, 2010 print.