North and South Korea hold military talks

Boston University international relations professor William Keylor, author of “A World of Nations: The International Order Since 1945,” offers the following comments on the military talks being held by North and South Korea:

“With everyone’s attention focused on North Korea, wondering what its next provacative move will be, not enough attention has been devoted to South Korea’s internal political situation and its possible effect on the on-going drama on the penisula.

“President Lee Myung-bak’s government is the most conservative, nationalistic one in Seoul for quite some time. Both official and public opinion in South Korea seem to be moving toward a position of  ’enough is enough.’ Pyongyang’s tried-and-true strategy of increasing military tension on the peninsula as a means of extracting economic aid from the south, and then agreeing to talks to reduce the tension, may have run its course.

“The refusal of the North Korean negotiators at Panmunjom to apologize, or even acknowledge responsibility, for the sinking of a South Korean warship last March and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November, does not bode well for the success of this new round of talks.

“The question is, how long will South Korea — under pressure from what seems to be an increasingly angry public — be willing to receive these body blows to its national sovereignty and security without some kind of retaliatory response?”

Contact William Keylor, 617-358-0197, wrkeylor@bu.edu