Will new NK provocations include terrorism and assassination attempts?

The terrible two

Feb 16th 2011, 11:26 by H.T. and D.T. | SEOUL   The Economist

DESPITE a concerted international effort since the start of the year to soothe heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, the South Korean government is bracing for a different type of aggravation from Pyongyang: terrorism, perhaps. Nothing is certain, of course. But if these fears were to be justified, it would reopen one of the darkest chapters in the fratricidal north-south relationship since the 1950-53 Korean war.

Kim Tae-hyo, President Lee Myung-bak’s advisor for national security strategy, told The Economist on February 15th that Mr Lee’s determination to launch a disproportionately strong response in the event of another North Korean attack (like the one on Yeongpyeong island in November) was no empty threat. “This is the best way to keep the peace and avoid war,” he said.

“I believe North Korea has already caught South Korea’s message and because of this it will not choose to make any aggression in the daytime or in the open space that everyone knows the source of. South Korea is looking at many other possibilities, such as terrorism and other kinds of provocations, other than military means,” he said. Elsewhere in the government people speculate that such shadowy threats could include assassinations or the use of biological warfare. “We need a lot of imagination,” Mr Kim says darkly.

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