The Koreas: Escalation and War?

The temperature is rising on the Korean peninsula. There’s lots of diplomacy going on, but could this result in armed conflict?

South Korean activists burn a North Korean flag with a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a rally in South Korea, May 25, 2010. (AP)

A South Korean warship went down, with 46 dead. A North Korean torpedo was apparently the cause. 

All that happened in March. And now, the incident’s aftermath is coming to a head. 

Tensions are escalating. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in Beijing and Seoul. South Korea has cut off trade with the North. North Korea has cut off all communication with the South, and threatened an artillery barrage. 

War seems unthinkable, but trouble does not. And the tale of the torpedo is lighting up new “big power” issues between the U.S. and China. 

This Hour, On Point: a warship down, and the standoff in Korea.


John Pomfret joins us from Beijing. He is diplomatic and Asian affairs correspondent for the Washington Post. He’s also author of “Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China.”

Amb. Chung Min Lee joins us from Seoul, South Korea. He is Ambassador for International Security Affairs and Global Issues in the South Korean government, and he’s dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University.

David Kang joins us from Los Angeles. He is director of the Korean Studies Institute and professor of international relations and business at the University of Southern California. He’s the author of “China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia” and co-author of “Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies.”

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