Relations of Two Koreas Are Sinking with the Sunken Warship, What Next?

On March 26, a South Korean warship, the Choenan, sank in the Yellow Sea after a powerful explosion. Though more than one-half of the ship’s sailors were rescued, 46 perished. While the final results of the subsequent investigation by the government and the public and military intelligence agencies are expected to be announced as early as mid-May, South Korea’s defense ministry has confirmed that a powerful explosion outside the warship was the main cause of the incident. Based on the evidence thus far, South Korea and many external media sources have been suspicious about North Korea’s involvement. Critics who strongly believe in the North’s involvement argue that the North wanted to use the Choenan incident as a display of military power to boost global attention prior to returning to the six-party talks. Nevertheless, North Korea has so far strongly denied its involvement and reacted strongly against such suspicions. Even if the investigation reveals that the allegations are true, South Korea’s government would not have many options to respond.