On August 20, 2015, North and South Korea exchanged weapon fires in the Demilitarized zone (Chosun Ilbo 8/21/2015). The Korean newspaper reports that the “…North fired anti-aircraft guns and direct-fire weapons at new South Korean loudspeakers that are blasting propaganda across the demilitarized zone. South Korea retaliated by lobbing 155 mm howitzer rounds into the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone.” There is no report of any military or civilian causality from the exchanged fire.

The New York Times reports that multiple analysts believe the recently installed large array of speakers in the South might be the cause of North Korea’s initial aggression (8/21/2015). South Korea has been using the speakers to demoralize North Korean soldiers near the Demilitarized zone. North Korean officials have demanded the South to dismantle the speaker array or face military force.

While gathering real information within North Korea is difficult, the provocative response by North Korea demonstrates the dire low moral atmosphere within the North Korean military ranks. By heightening the military readiness, Kim Jung Un, the leader of North Korea, is also attempting to consolidate his power at a time of multiple purging and executions of senior North Korean government officials.

The South Korean reaction should be cautious but also confident that this particular incident won’t develop into something more worrisome. Given the increasing economic and political ties South Korean President Park Geun-hye has made with both China and Russia, North Korea is hard pressed to find any significant political support for its actions in the region. In fact, since Kim Jung Un rose to power, there has not been one action by North Korea that has not raised concerns from both China and Russia.

If North Korea continues to act provocatively in the name of consolidating power for Kim Jung Un, then the country faces significant international political isolation even with its traditional staunchest supporters. China and Russia are more interested in cooperating with South Korea then continuously defending a failing state of North Korea.

The fall of a failed state requires nothing but time. Hopefully, the current trend would bring a more smooth and peaceful reunification resolution for the Koreas.


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