North Korea scolded the South for its
reported plan to destroy two giant bronze statues in Pyongyang if the North
issues any further provocations. Experts on the conflict, speaking with Foreign
Policy today, tend to agree with the North: This would be a really bad idea.
The South Korean plan first surfaced yesterday in the
Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which cited government
sources saying a surgical strike on statues of patriarchs Kim Jong il and Kim
il Sung would convey an important message to the North Koreans:
statues are considered sacred in the North, and any damage to them could
deliver a huge psychological impact. "If North Korea launches another
provocation, our military has developed a plan to respond with air-to-surface
and surface-to-surface missiles to strike not only the source of provocation as
well as support and command forces, but also some statues of Kim Il-sung and
Kim Jong-il," a government source here said Sunday.
towering bronze statues deifying the late Korean
leaders reside atop Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang. While the analysts we spoke to noted that South Korea has patiently
endured military bombardments, provocations and insults from the North for
years, they raised a number of concerns about the wisdom of the hypothetical
this would be difficult to pull off
doesn't make sense to me," Michael Green, senior vice president for Asia at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, told FP. "The air defenses
around Pyongyang are much tougher than around the naval and air installations
on the West Sea. I think their general practice in the South will be to hit the
regional command HQ responsible for any provocative strike --and the most
likely spot for a NK hit would be on the West Sea."
statues are a non-strategic target. The strike wouldn't be worth it
out the statues would be gratifying from a nationalistic standpoint, noted
Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations. "I think this stems from a strong South Korean determination to send
a message to North Korea that nuclear weapons acquisition has not given North
Korea the capacity to use its nuclear status as an instrument of blackmail
toward the South," he told FP. But Snyder emphasized that the statues are
"non-strategic targets." Not only would they not weaken North Korea's military,
but hitting them wouldn't guarantee a proportional response from the North. "
The South Korean response places a premium on the North ensuring that it also
has a plan for managing escalation control stemming from any conflict." Of course, no one
can say for sure what the North would do.
you crazy? This would ignite a Second Korean War.
H. Ku, director of the U.S.-South Korean Institute at Johns Hopkins, said this
kind of a strike would almost certainly escalate the conflict beyond anyone's control. "If South Korea were
to bomb the statues, this would effectively be the start of the Second Korean
War," he said. "Bombing Mansudae Hill would be like the North Koreans bombing
the Blue House [the South Korean president's residence]. How can either country stand down from that?"