Commentary by Hank F. Miller Jr.
A frustrated North Korea is once again, this time lashing out with a deadly volley of artillery aimed at reminding rival South Korea -- and the world--that it will not be ignored. The barrage of shots fired Tuesday at a South Korean island laying within sight of its shores did not come out of nowhere.
For weeks, North Korea has been angling for credit for reaching out to the U.S. and South Korea, and has warned that cool response would come at a cost.The destruction that set homes ablaze, sent islanders fleeing for underground shelters and killed two South Korean Marines and two civilians may have been more than Pyongyang bargained for in its game of chicken with the South.
But it gets attention, which is what Pyongyang wants as it seeks to restart negotiations to barter its nuclear program for much-needed aid and they need just about everything.
It can be hard to remember in bustling , cosmopolitan Seoul that the Korean Peninsula remains in a state of war. Sixty years after the fighting began, South Korea has risen to become the world' s 15th-largest economy, an example of industry and power.
But a rising South Korea does not sit well with the poorer northern neighbor. Once the richer of the two Koreas, the North has suffered over the years from the loss of Soviet aid, economic mismanagement and natural disasters that destroyed its precious few resources.The last wo years have been a particulary delicate time in Pyongyang, with Kim Jong Il reportedly suffering a stroke in 2008 and then paving the way to name his youngest son as his successor.
But Kim Jong Un, still in his 20s and known as the young General,won't have the benefit of decades of preparation that his father had before taking over from his father,the late founder Kim Il Sung. There are at least three things Kim will want to secure before he can comfortably hand over the reins: loyalty to the young General,economic stability and security ensuring the regime's grip on power, otherwise the top old -generals will be wrangling for a position to take over.
Winning the military's loyalty will be key in a society that operates under a "militaryfirst " policy. We'll just have to wait and see just what retallitation measures the South will place on the North.
There's quite a bit of tension here in our area of Japan namely the island of Kyushu and Okinawa, just last week North Korea said that they are now capable of using nuclear warheads and can reach U.S.bases in Okinawa. Where I live here in Kitakyushu City. We're very near North Korea and China. Only a three hour speed boat ride, and a 45 minute to one hour plane ride away. In our area everone is very worried to have such a radical leader within reach of our island.
Warm Regards and Happy Thanksgiving to all, from Kitakyushu City, Japan.
Hank F. Miller Jr.