I have just watched the 1999 South Korean crime movie 'Shiri' a few days ago about a deep undercover North Korean terrorist unit that infiltrate the South.
The beginning scenes are of the training of the terrorist team in North Korea where they trained on killing real people, the captured soldiers of the South.
“North Korea torpedoed South’s navy ship: Report” says the headline currently running on Reuters.
According to the story, the sinking of a South Korean warship on March 26 was the work of a North Korean submarine.
“It is the military intelligence’s assessment that the North attacked with a heavy torpedo,” an unnamed South Korean military source told Yonhap, the news agency. The conclusion is said to be “certain”.
Since I live in Shanghai, just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Seoul, I suppose I should prepare for the worst. World War Three may shortly arrive.
(Do you think China would cancel the Shanghai World Expo if hostilities break out between the North and South?)
Except, of course, that today’s news is largely meaningless.
There may be some robust accusations here from the South Korean army, but it is worth bearing in mind that sailors on board the South Korean warship did not detect any signs on their sonar of an approaching torpedo.
Nor did investigators find any shrapnel from a torpedo or a mine at the scene. Given that North Korea is not the most technologically-advanced state, and given that its hulking torpedos weigh 440lbs, it is surprising that one managed to slip under the radar, as it were, and then vanish without trace.
The investigation team has said it could take up to a year before it has any conclusive proof of an attack.
And if it turns out that the ship was attacked, what then?
South Korea is unlikely to start a shooting war with its nuclear-armed, highly-unstable neighbour. Even if it wanted to usher in the apocalypse, the United States , China and Japan would surely intervene.
Nor can South Korea impose any punitive sanctions or cut off aid to the North – it has done that already. There’s no aid left to cut. The only response it can give is to work even more closely with the West to bring Kim Jong-il’s regime to task.