Wednesday, January 31, 2007

American-Korean War of 1871

Indeed, the American–Korean War of 1871 is little known by Americans (Asians as well) today. But, historian Gordon Chang points out, “the 1871 clash was a major historical event by any standard,” and it “was also the first time that American ground forces actually seized, held, and raised the American flag over territory in Asia, initiating a long and traumatic tradition of American military involvement there.”

In the article “Whose ‘Barbarism’? Whose ‘Treachery’? Race and Civilization in the Unknown United States–Korea War of 1871,” Professor Chang gives a detailed account of this War. Besides recapturing the historical importance of the War, it shows how the ideas about race and civilization of the American leaders of the 1871 expedition, such as Frederick F. Low, decisively shaped American decision making. It is so a challenge to the so-called “Wisconsin School,” which posits that the search for economic opportunity as the motive force in American efforts to open Asia (the Open Door policy as the taproot of nineteenth-century American diplomacy in Asia) to avoid domestic revolution and socialism.

Highly recommend this article to you.

Foreigners in Korea

I've studied Japanese politics and society, and many people comment on how difficult it is to be a foreigner in Japan, working or living. I think it's interesting that there seems to be a comparably difficult situation for foreigners in Korea, as described in this Chosun Ilbo report. The report focuses on financial and business related difficulties, such as problems getting a cell phone plan or internet without a Korean to sign you up for it, but it seems indicative of the kind of insularity that Japan is often accused of.

I would also imagine that reactions like these are rooted in negative reactions to foreigners on their soil previously, like the Japanese, specifically. Is that an accurate assessment? Is there a controversy regarding immigration policy in Korea as there is in the US?

fake korean map

My perception of history has been transformed to a high degree. When I was in my teen age, history was nothing but a subject needing memorizing. Yet, it was totally wrong. I realized that hisotry is not a subject memorizing but understanding. Although I tend to have historical narrative of Korean side, I came to understand other parties' arguements. The more I learn about others, the more I become neutral on the subject. The more I become neutral, the more I feel I turn into a traitor to my country (extremely speaking). That's why it is hard to express my own opinions about those subjects. I am also afraid of articulating something historical only based on my education in Korea. Although I really want to understand history from all angles, what's the goal or purpose of doing that? toward the end of semester, I hope I know the answer. when I read "Fake Korean Maps Rile Chinese",(Bloggers mistakenly atttribute ultranationalist views to textbooks) I could not help laughing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crossing The Line

Have you seen anything about this documentary?

I heard that it was mentioned on 60 minutes and found the news story:

The film is a documentary of the life of Joe Dresnok, the last American defector to North Korea. He ran the minefield in 1962 and never looked back.

The production company that produced the film ( published two other documentaries on North Korean living - A State of Mind (about the gymnastic training of two young girls for the Mass Games), and The Game of Their Lives (about the 1966 World Cup Soccer team which beat Italy???).

I haven't seen Crossing the Line or The Game of Their Lives yet, has anyone?

I did see A State of Mind and it was very interesting - it showed quite a bit about the average Pyongyang family and their views on North Korea and America, and why they trained so hard to participate in the Mass Games.

Does anyone have any input on any of these documentaries or others which have full access to NK society?

Pictures of DPRK from Oct. 06

You don't need to read Chinese to understand this site. A Chinese businessman posts his pictures from his October 2006 trip to the DPRK:

(It may take a while to load fully.)

On the table at the 6 Party Talks

As was posted previously, it appears that the 6 Party Talks are set to resume February 8th. In response to a point made below regarding the relative lack of coverage of the event, one reason for this appears to be that China, the host, has yet to make an official announcement. This has at least deterred the U.S. from officially announcing the next round of the talks. For more, see the link below...

Also, it appears that a partial lifting on the freeze on assets at Banco Delta Asia - the purported reason for North Korea boycotting the talks to begin with, and subsequently testing a bomb last fall - may be in the works as part of the deal to achieve NK's disarmament/dismantlement. Talks are occurring between U.S. and NK officials in Beijing today, outside of the 6PT forum. It appears to me that we're seeing some quiet bilateral meetings between Washington and Pyongyang. With any luck, these developments will yield some progress in denuclearization discussions.

South Korea Bids For Non-Permanent Seat on UN Security Council

Seoul Declares Bid for UN Security Council

South Korea has declared again its bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a press release Tuesday. Seoul withdrew its candidacy last year as a way to help then Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon’s campaign to become the U.N. secretary-general.

``The government has decided to run for non-permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council for a two-year term that starts from 2013 and notified U.N. member states of its decision on Jan. 24,’’ the ministry said.

A vote for new members on the 15-seat council will be held in 2012 at the 67th U.N. General Assembly.

South Korea served a two-year term from 1996 as one of the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council.

01-30-2007 19:59

The Talks Resume Feb 8th...

Although there's been surprisingly little coverage in mainstream media outlets, a date for the next round of the Six Party Talks has been set: February 8th. Those involved indicate (see below) that the duration of the next round is dependent entirely upon the amount of progress made.

As written, the AP story below (carried in the Washington Post) portrays Japanese Prime Minister Abe as placing the burden for making progress heavily on the DPRK, whereas, unsurprisingly, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stresses that the burden is a "joint" one.

The story also notes that one Russian envoy expressed optimism, as did an American official also in Beijing for talks on the DPRK's financial dealings (which were connected, until they were a seperate issue, until they were connected again...stay tuned).

Also quoted herein is a statement by the ROK Foreign Ministry in which it expresses hope that this round of talks will produce an agreement on how to begin implementing the agreement reached in 2005 ( agreement on the agreement). [Note: this may be due a) to my failings as a researcher or b) the fact that it isn't there, but I was unable to locate an English version of this statement on the Ministry's English website.]


China: NKorea Nuke Talks Resuming Feb. 8


The Associated PressTuesday, January 30, 2007; 6:46 AM

BEIJING -- International talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear programs will resume Feb. 8, China said Tuesday, as Washington and Pyongyang began a new round of meetings over the North's alleged illicit financial dealings.

The last round of arms talks in December _ held in the wake of the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test _ failed to make any progress on getting Pyongyang to disarm. The duration of next week's nuclear discussions "will depend on the progress made during the talks," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

Japan's prime minister warned the North would face repercussions if the talks don't move forward. "If the six-party talks fail to yield results, international pressure on North Korea will be further increased," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Tokyo. "It will be North Korea that will be in the most difficult situation."

The negotiations have only resulted in one agreement since they began more than three years ago, a September 2005 pact where the North pledged to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

Jiang said the key goal at the next meeting would be to take "substantive steps" toward implementing that agreement between China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas. "We hope the relevant parties can make joint efforts ... toward implementing the joint statement in a comprehensive way," Jiang said at a regular news briefing.

Russia's nuclear envoy was upbeat Tuesday ahead of the talks. "The very fact that there was agreement to hold a new round testifies to signs of small movement in the positions of the participants," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Lusyukov, who will head the Russian delegation at the talks, was quoted by Russian news agency RIA-Novosti as saying. But the U.S. ambassador to South Korea said setting a date didn't mean progress in itself, calling for continued unity" among the countries involved to persuade the North to abandon nuclear weapons.

"Pyongyang has begun to get the message that the entire world has concerns about its provocative actions," Alexander Vershbow said in Seoul. "This unified response has in my view been key to the renewal of the six-party talks and to the prospects for forward movement at next week's session."

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it "expects the participating countries to produce a substantial agreement for early steps" to implement the 2005 agreement.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Treasury official in Beijing for negotiations with North Korea over its alleged illicit financial dealings said he was "hopeful" of progress on the issue, which has stymied progress at the nuclear talks.

Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser was to meet his North Korean counterparts Tuesday to talk about U.S. financial restrictions, which were imposed due to Pyongyang's alleged smuggling and counterfeiting.

"We're prepared to go through these talks as long as it takes for us to get through our agenda," Glaser told reporters. "I'm hopeful we'll make progress." Pyongyang has tied the two issues together since Washington took action against the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia in 2005, accusing the bank of complicity in North Korea's alleged illegal financial activity such as counterfeiting and money laundering.

The move has caused other banks to steer clear of North Korean business for fear of losing access to the U.S. market, hampering North Korea's access to the international banking system.
North Korea had refused to discuss its nuclear program until the financial restrictions are lifted, and only agreed to return to the arms talks in the wake of its nuclear test following a yearlong boycott to address the financial issue.
Associated Press writer Alexa Olesen in Beijing contributed to this report.

Monday, January 29, 2007

China's Tributary System

I'm reading a book called "East Asia at the Center: Four Thousand Years of Engagement with the World" for another class and it mentioned the tributary system we talked about in class last week. It was interesting because the author had the following to say about the Chinese tributary system:

"It was during these years [Han Dynasty period] that the Chinese developed practices for managing foreign affairs traditionally referred to as the tributary system, a system of enormous political important to Chinese ruling elites and of great economic importance to those regimes that accepted tributary status. Under the system, non-Chinese--"barbarian"--states accepted a nominally subordinate place in the Chinese imperial order. They demonstrated this subordination by sending missions to the Chinese court and paying homage to the Chinese ruler to whom they presented acceptable gifts. Usually they left hostages, presumably members of their ruling families. In return they received gifts from the emperor, often more valuable than those they submitted, and opportunities for private trade...To the barbarians, ritual submission was a price they grudgingly paid in exchange for Chinese bribes and access to trade. Yu Ying-shih, the leading authority on Han foreign relations, argues that the tribute system was a net loss to China at the state level, although individual Chinese profited (25)."

"The Chinese received acknowledgement of their superiority, at least nominal, and assurances of the vassal states' good behavior. The tribute bearers obtained insurances against Chinese aggression, the possibility of protection against other enemies, access to Chinese goods, and a significant profit through the exchange of presents itself (60)."

When one thinks of "tributary system" an unequal and rather rapacious relationship comes to mind, but it is interesting to see that the Chinese version of a tributary system was quite the opposite. In this light, as Professor Larsen said, it was smart for the Koreans to send tribute to the Chinese-- as it was economically and politically advantageous--and didn't quite mean subservience.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

History Textbook

Hi again. Speaking of the question of "who can write a history," the Korean government has announced plans to start letting schools use all privately published high school history texts that meet a certain standard in 2009.

Don't Leave History Education to the Left

The link is an article in Chosun Ilbo, and so it is understandable but at the same time very interesting to read:
"We had years of headaches due to a left-leaning school text on modern Korean history. About half of Korean schools still use texts that portray North Korea’s government and hereditary transfer of power in a positive light, while focusing on South Korea’s history of authoritarianism and corruption. They also represent South Korea as subordinate to the U.S. and Japan. This is because leftwing historians hijacked the writing of these texts, which are then given the blessing of teachers from the leftwing Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union. If history books are to be certified by the government under these circumstances, more students would be taught to believe that South Korean history is a sad catalogue of injustice and opportunism without learning about North Korea’s purges and totalitarian oppression. Another generation will come away with the impression that North Korea is the achieved state of a glorious revolution born of the desire to build a sacred nation."

I find this interesting because Japan's right-oriented people have the same complaints about generally left-leaning history education at school (e.g.: Masochistic view of history in education).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"Nation"-alized History

I don't know if this is appropriate for a group blog like this, but I would like to share my personal view and concern regarding history (or historical narratives) here. Since I am not a historian at this point, it might sound naive or just banal. Simply put, my concern is "why do nations have a monopoly on (authentic) history?" We learn 'national' history at school (even now we study "korean" history) but especially considering the fact that national identities were born quite recently in human history, the narrative chosen to be taught is not only far from 'natural' or 'authentic', but rather has strong and specific political implications. For states, there are hundreds of obvious reasons to teach 'nation'-alized history, but I feel very awkward when people see it as "the way it should be." Any history museum in any country has its own bias and narrative, and as in school education, national museums usually have nation-based political goals. Often the case when we see them, we consider the political conflict over history is going on between nations (such as among Koreans vs Japanese vs Chinese). Although they are fascinating in a sense, it is not entirely appropriate that we frame conflicts only in national terms. What about other identities? Gender? Class? Region? To me, the way we talk about history seems to be 'successfully' monopolized by national identities, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. (Ok, I have to admit that in political science I align myself with critical theorists, but I think I have the same tendency (or even stronger one) in history.)

Two books that I recently read and made me think about this issue more:
Ueno Chizuko, Naitonalism and Gender: She is a famous Japanese sociologist and feminist thinker. A big chunk of the book is dedicated to analyzing historiography of the "Comfort Women" issue and shows how national identities have been overriding gender identities.
Oguma Eiji, The Myth of the Homogeneous Nation (Japanese): A massive volume on Japan's modern intellectual history on the origin and changes of the "homogeneous nation" discourse. It shows how arbitrarily and easily nation-alized history is created and modified.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Inside North Korea

This is an interesting story from NPR's producer Ann Kim, a Korean-American woman who has relatives in North Korea. She gives first-hand experience about what the life is like in North Korea today based on her recent trip to North Korea with her mother.

Listen to the story, please click the link (Inside North Korea)

It's about 12-minute long.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Wikipedia Debate Continues...

Not relevant to the substance of our class, but I thought some might find this interesting (even if it is literally yesterday's news).

Another salvo in the Wikipedia wars that I think speaks to the forces behind the information on the site and policing mechanism.

It's also interesting that MSFT would even attempt this. Not sure what, but it definitely says something about Microsoft's perceptions of how powerful/widely used/influential Wikipedia is.

Find this article at:

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. has landed in the Wikipedia doghouse after it offered to pay a blogger to change technical articles on the community-produced Web encyclopedia site. While Wikipedia is known as the encyclopedia that anyone can tweak, founder Jimmy Wales and his cadre of volunteer editors, writers and moderators have blocked public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest from posting fluff or slanting entries. So paying for Wikipedia copy is considered a definite no-no.

"We were very disappointed to hear that Microsoft was taking that approach," Wales said Tuesday.

Microsoft acknowledged it had approached the writer and offered to pay him for the time it would take to correct what the company was sure were inaccuracies in Wikipedia articles on an open-source document standard and a rival format put forward by Microsoft.

Spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said she believed the articles were heavily written by people at IBM Corp., which is a big supporter of the open-source standard. IBM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brooker said Microsoft had gotten nowhere in trying to flag the purported mistakes to Wikipedia's volunteer editors, so it sought an independent expert who could determine whether changes were necessary and enter them on Wikipedia.

Brooker said Microsoft believed that having an independent source would be key in getting the changes to stick -- that is, to not have them just overruled by other Wikipedia writers.

Brooker said Microsoft and the writer, Rick Jelliffe, had not determined a price and no money had changed hands -- but they had agreed that the company would not be allowed to review his writing before submission. Brooker said Microsoft had never previously hired someone to influence a Wikipedia article.

Jelliffe, who is chief technical officer of a computing company based in Australia, did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

In a blog posting Monday, he described himself as a technical standards aficionado and not a Microsoft partisan. He said he was surprised to be approached by Microsoft but figured he'd accept the offer to review the Wikipedia articles because he considered it important to make sure technical standards processes were accurately described.

Wales said the proper course would have been for Microsoft to write or commission a "white paper" on the subject with its interpretation of the facts, post it to an outside Web site and then link to it in the Wikipedia articles' discussion forums.

"It seems like a much better, transparent, straightforward way," Wales said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

S Korean Foreign Minister Comments

The South Korean Foreign Minister has added his own optimistic comments to those made by his Vice Minister and Hill, mentioned in previous posts here. According to the BBC article here, Song Min-soon "indicated" the North Koreans may be willing to give in on the issue of nuclear technology.

It's hard to tell how concrete this "indication" but it's certainly more hopeful news than we've heard out of the 6 Party Talks in the last year, so that's something. Maybe, with the US distracted by Iraq and Iran, North Korea thinks it can get a good deal out of this? Anyway, it'll be interesting to continue watching this situation unfold.

Korea-Japan Frictions Coming to American Schools

To continue Kyuran's previous post on Korea-Japan relations, I came across these two articles in the Chosun Ilbo about a book that is being read in some middle schools in America. Written by a Japanese-American and supposedly autobiographical, it talks about Korean "atrocities" towards the fleeing Japanese in Korea after Japan lost the war. Reading about the book was enough to irritate me, but I have to give credit to Japan for banning the book. I personally want to read the book and see for myself what she has to say. That should be something!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More on a Date for the Talks...

Yonhap is reporting that South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister Chun Young-woo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan held a meeting that lasted nearly two hours today.

Regarding a date, Chun is quoted in the piece as noting:

1) "So the date will be decided in the next few days."

2) "The date has yet to be set, but I believe the next round of the six-party talks would resume in the week starting on the fifth (of February) at the latest."

Some Hope for the Six Party Talks?

I'm sure we'll be hearing tons about this soon, so I figured I'd get the ball rolling with some pre-talks optimism from Christopher Hill, a U.S. assistant secretary of state and the American envoy to the talks. (Hill's bio:

The AP reports Hill emerged optimistic that some progress just might be made during the upcoming round after a meeting on Sunday with Wu Dawei, China's representative to the forum. (

In the article, after the meeting, Hill is reported to have remarked, "Based on all the consultations we've had in the last week or so, I think we have a basis for getting together as soon as possible in the six-party process and making progress."

Other highlights include :

-Rumors that a date for the talks will be announced soon (perhaps tomorrow our time). As the host, China has the privilege of making the announcement, but will consult all invovled before doing so.

-Background info that the breakthrough (if there is one) might have come as a result of a series of direct meetings between Hill and a DPRK envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, over the course of three days last week in Berlin. This AP report notes that the Chosun Ilbo reported that the two sides came close to an agreement that would see the DPRK freeze its nuclear activity and allow international monitoring in exchange for aid.

Something interesting from last week

So, many of you have probably seen this, since I think all of us follow the news, but I read this at work last week, and thought it was particularly interesting, and indicative of not only the problems of ROK-DPRK relations right now, but also demonstrates why China supports the DPRK regime.

"S Korea 'regrets' refugee mix-up"

One of the reasons I'm posting this though, is really to ask a question. Does anyone have an idea why the DPRK has kidnapped South Korean individuals before? Do they basically arrest them for trespassing? Or are they interrogated as enemy combatants in the old Cold War style? Do they really kidnap them? And do events like these strain Chinese-South Korean relations? (I would imagine they do). Does North Korea consider itself the rightful government of the whole peninsula, so South Koreans are really their citizens?

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Year In Pyongyang

I haven't read the whole thing yet but I thought some of you might be interested in this.

A Year In Pyongyang

It is a memoir of Andrew Holloway, who lived in Pyonyang for a year (obviously).

Korea-Japan relations

whenever we talk about history of Korea, we can not set aside its relationship with Japan. I believe that the majority of Korean people have defined the relationship between Korea and Japan as the victim and the aggressor, respectively. Despite thriving cultural exchanges between two countries, Koreans' anti-Japanese sentiments have been witnessed still. Koreans, who have victimized themselves for a long time, tend to deny historical interpretation from Japanese angle (pro-japanese). To make matters worse, historical interpretation praising Japanese colonial period aggravated anti-japanese sentiments. Sugimoto Mikio's article (Controversies over the History of Japan-Korea Relationsby Sugimoto Mikio) is very controversial. Of course, as a Korean, I was annoyed and irritated by this article. I am wondering about other people's thoughts on the article.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

understanding history through TV

In controversy with China over Goguryeo, Korean TVs have spearheaded a campaign for understanding the Goguryeo history. (see “big-budget historical dramas popular”)
Although I was aware of "Jumong", a founder of Goguryeo, through the myth, this TV drama mae me more interested in Goguryeo history. As a person who believe in TV power, I believe that those TV dramas will bring about more interests and curiosities abour korean history to the viewers. Yet, I also think that more attention is not sufficient to understand historical controversy since those viewers could devlelop biased and distorted knowledge.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Media Links

Please contribute to a list of online media websites for Korean news...

Korea Central News Agency (DPRK):
Yonhap News (ROK):
People's Daily (China):
Kyodo News (Japan):
Asia Times:
Asia Media:

Isn't there another ROK news source called ROK Online Daily? I've read translated articles from it through FBIS but I can't find a link to it =/

If there's a clear political orientation to the source, please include that too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

War Criminals

Hi all.
Debates and controversies over historical issues in Korea-Japan (and China) relations fascinate me. Recently, I have been working on a project on Japan's war responsbilities and Tokyo Trial, and found this very interesting: (Agan from the Marmot's Hole") Korean war criminals cleared . (If you read Korean, see 강제동원 ‘조선인 전범’ 오명 벗었다)

To me, Koreans' general take on Class A Tokyo Trial (equivalent of Nuremberg Trial in Germany) is confusing. It seems Korean rightists are divided over or have a complicated relationship with Japanese rightists' arguments on many historical issues in general as reflected in controversies on the New Right Group's history textbook. (for example: this and this). Is Class A Tokyo Trial one of the controversial topics, or is there a relatively clear consensus on how they interpret it?


are all intertwined in the controversy surrounding So Far from the Bamboo Grove, a novel that depicts the travails of a Japanese family who fled Korea at the end of the Second World War. As well and fully chronicled in this post at The Marmot's Hole, many Koreans and Korean-Americans are protesting the book's use in some American middle schools. At stake are a number of issues including whether there is a single acceptable narrative of events, who gets to set the agenda, the role of schools and books in the shaping of historical memory and on and on. Worth a look.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Hey Everyone,

OK, so I was hungry when I picked the name. Sorry. If you're curious, see here: . Trust me, they're yummy. (And no, I'm not trying to fob this post off as one that counts for class.) =)

I'm going with an alias for a measure of privacy (personal and professional reasons), but just so we all who whose ramblings these are, I stick by my statements about both the Chili Peppers and Beyoncé, thank you very much.

See you all in cyberspace.

"Insinuated" History

This was in the news recently:
The CIA has fixed information regarding South Korea's history on its World Factbook website, a civic group said yesterday.

The CIA has changed its description of Korea from an "independent kingdom for much of the past millennium" to an "independent kingdom for much of its millennia-long history," the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea said.

The original sentence was inaccurate as it insinuated that South Korea's history only began a millennium ago and ignored its Goguryeo (B.C. 37-A.D. 668) and Gojoseon (B.C. 2333-B.C. 108) periods, VANK members said on its website.

I'm still not sure what I think about this. It's a minor point, and the change is definitely a score for clearer writing, so it does seem like a good edit. On the other hand, since the Factbook is not intended to serve as a historical reference, I'm not convinced that the change to over-clarify Korea's position past a thousand years ago is really something we should expect our intel experts to be doing.

VANK, incidentally, appears to be the people organizing letter-writing campaigns to fight for a rectification of Korean history around the world (even if it gives them a bad name among some people).

On another note, the history section of the Korea article on Wikipedia is begging for editors. Looks like we have a mandate to go in.

Six Party Talks

The history books of the future will probably have a chapter devoted to what we are witnessing on the peninsula right now. With this in mind, does anyone have any thoughts on the motivations of both North and South Korea in continuing the Six Party Talks?

Is North Korea:
-- Stalling for time in further development of weapons systems
-- Posturing for internal stability
-- Posturing for external security
-- Attempting to extort additional international aid

Is South Korea's policy of engagement:
-- Based on a feeling of ethnic unity
-- Seeking to eventually reunify the peninsula
-- Seeking to pacify an aggressor nation on its doorstep
-- Seeking to provide additional aid to North Korea without appearing to break with the U.S. in the unified front of not responding to North Korean provocations

I don't know all that much about South Korea, so I am really interested to hear everyone's thoughts.