A few news items here:
Floods in North Korea have left at least 24 people killed and 14 missing, Radio Free Asia reported last week. North Korea has sent a request to the UN for inspectors to visit.
(Sidebar: oh, NOW they want UN inspectors.)
The agreement between North and South Korea following marathon negotiations is receiving contrasting reviews. The government stresses that it is extremely rare for the North to express “regret” for any provocation, but critics say regret is nowhere near adequate for the severe maiming of two soldiers by North Korean box mines in the demilitarized zone.
The wording of the agreement invites such criticism. Hwang Pyong-so, the North Korean army’s politburo chief, was able to spin the agreement the other way, claiming South Korea had “learned a serious lesson” and the allegation that the North planted the mines was “groundless.”
Some observers feel the agreement is important because it shows just how much North Korea fears the propaganda broadcasts. And Seoul has reserved the option to resume the loudspeaker broadcasts if Pyongyang resorts to provocations again. This could be seen as securing a strong deterrent.
If North Korea was not responsible for the box mines, it would have had no reason to sign the agreement. That is why the latest agreement should not be written off as useless. At the same time, it should not be treated as a dramatic step toward improved inter-Korean relations.
South Korea is afraid of the status quo changing. It would ratehr maintain a dysfunctional relationship with the Chinese-backed North than every resolve anything.
If South Korea is still thinking that the US under Obama will help it, it has another thing coming:
Nobody can be sure that North Korea’s tactics have been fully exposed, but the South’s weaknesses have become much clearer. The military cannot waste any time in coming up with a proper defense. Joint South Korea-U.S. defense plans must urgently be overhauled to take the new realities into account.