Koreas Agree to End Latest Military Crisis
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Deal heads off short-term conflict but shows Pyongyang is sticking to its common playbook.
A deal between the two Koreas to end a military standoff heads off near-term conflict but shows little has changed in the Pyongyang playbook of provocations under young North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
In a news conference in Seoul early Tuesday, South Korea’s chief negotiator announced an agreement to end North Korea’s threat to fire artillery at loudspeaker systems set up by Seoul to blast anti-Pyongyang messages over the border.
In return, North Korea expressed regret—but didn’t apologize—over the explosion of land mines this month that severed the legs of two South Korean soldiers, an incident that prompted Seoul to respond by broadcasting the cross-border propaganda messages.
Investigations by South Korea and the United Nations military command found North Korea responsible for the mine attack. Under the deal, Pyongyang is able to continue to deny involvement.
North Korea observers said the agreement is unlikely to break the cycle of threats of violence Pyongyang uses to win aid and security guarantees. It also underscores Seoul’s willingness to make strategic sacrifices in the hope of a more stable relationship with its volatile rival.
In many ways, the latest crisis resembles prior confrontations: a swift attack, followed by fears of an escalation of conflict. A resolution is then found through dialogue, with little cost to North Korea for its aggression. Typically, resolutions are portrayed inside North Korea as victories against hostile forces, bolstering support for its leader.
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