Despite the fact that North Korea and South Korea have technically been at war since the 1950s, when their hostilities ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, the North has now claimed to have entered a state of war with the South. Unfortunately, exactly what that means is difficult to decipher.
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, North Korea said in a statement on Saturday that it "will deal with every inter-Korean issue in a wartime manner." The statement then added this rather opaque gem: "Situations on the Korean Peninsula, which are neither in peace or at war, have come to an end."
Whatever that means, the North Korean declaration stopped short of actually saying it was launching an attack on the South, though it did promise "merciless retaliation" in event of a strike from South Korea or the United States. On Tuesday, North Korea set its rocket units on their highest combat readiness, threatening to hit targets in South Korea as well as American bases in Hawaii and Guam. But, again, nothing ultimately happened. A perceived halfheartedness from the North Koreans has led experts to assume this most recent statement is high on bark and short on bite:
no real change:"state of war" only means "dealing with issues in a wartime manner".Not a declaration of war:english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2013/…”— DPRK Watch (@dprkwatch) March 30, 2013
The Associated Press' Jean H. Lee, bureau chief in Pyongyang and Seoul, adds, "[E]ven as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is issuing midnight battle cries to his generals to ready their rockets, he and his million-man army know full well that a successful missile strike on U.S. targets would be suicide for the outnumbered, out-powered North Korean regime."
[Image via AP]