Joint Security Zone, DMZ from Northern side. Wikimedia Commons
August 21, 2015
Dear President Obama:
We at the Korea Policy Institute urge you to act swiftly to seek a peaceful resolution to current hostilities on the Korean peninsula. Avenues exist to replace saber-rattling with diplomacy.
The United States-led United Nations Command in Korea and the South Korean military have concluded that injuries suffered by two South Korean soldiers on August 4, 2015 were due to a mine planted by North Korea. North Korea, however, denies the allegation and has called for a joint investigation of the incident.
The South Korean military fired artillery rounds into the northern side on August 20, 2015, alleging that North Korea had fired first at a propaganda loudspeaker in the southern side yet North Korea has denied firing the first shots.
North Korea has set a deadline of 5:00 p.m., August 22, 2015 (KST) for South Korea to turn off its propaganda loudspeakers. Crucially, however, it has also offered to open a channel for the improvement of inter-Korean ties.
North Korea has placed its military on a “quasi-war” status. Statements by North Korea indicate that it intends to direct its military strikes at South Korea’s loudspeakers if they are not silenced by the aforementioned deadline and will engage in all-out war, depending upon the nature of South Korea’s response.
Opportunities to diffuse the crisis are available. Thus far, however, South Korea has announced that it will not silence its loudspeakers and that it will meet North Korean force with even greater force. And although ongoing U.S. –South Korea joint war exercises were momentarily placed on hold, they have resumed and U.S. troops are reportedly mobilizing near the DMZ. These responses are akin to throwing gasoline on a fire.
Mr. President, we urge you to act swiftly to take advantage of all opportunities at hand to engage in dialogue with North Korea and work for peace in Korea, lest tragedy ensue.
Paul Liem Chairperson, Board of Directors