Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News North Korean Torpedo Sinks SK Naval Vessel

  1. May 21, 2010 #1

    This is insane, and frightening.

    The USA diplomatic response:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/H3TsUy1dEcY&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param [Broken] name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/H3TsUy1dEcY&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2010 #2
    I just hope the incident and ensuing consequences don't escalate into war.
  4. May 21, 2010 #3
    I doubt that it will, although technically the war never ended. A war in Korea would be ugly, with land forces from NK overwhelming, and a possible nuclear shelling of Seoul. Such a war would be unwise, but I guess that doesn't make it impossible.
  5. May 21, 2010 #4
    So, can North Korea just sink South Korean ships whenever it wants to without consequence? 47 sailors, dead. All for nothing? Frustrating to me.
  6. May 21, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    One cannot judge a war unwise without considering the consequences of not warring.
  7. May 21, 2010 #6
    I wish I knew. This situation is maddening, and a perfect illustration of why Iran must NEVER be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

    For NK, what can be done, when China has their own agenda, and Russia is... being Russia?

    This is what starts wars however, such as Vietnam, and that was BS! I could just scream.
  8. May 21, 2010 #7
    I agree, but I am not in charge. Were it my choice, SK desires for reunification would be put aside, the US would not be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, and we would strike NK with TRUE overwhelming force, and take the risk. This "Sword of Damocles" we all live beneath as a result of current conditions is insane.

    I should add, as with Iraq, sanctioning seems to kill as many, or more, than open conflict. I loathe this "sterile" view of warfare, which is inherently messy.
  9. May 21, 2010 #8
    To be sure, there WILL be consequences. However, the diplomatic thrust is to make those consequences non-military in nature.
    Unfortunately, NK considers any sanctions to be an act of war in itself.

    This is why the greater diplomatic thrust is to get China(NK's friend) to agree supporting hard sanctions over this incident.
  10. May 21, 2010 #9
    Basically, Yes. There is essentially zero chance that anything meaningful will come out of this, and now the world knows that you can outright attack an American ally and the only thing President Obama will do is be sad.
  11. May 21, 2010 #10
    Why did they shoot the sub in the first place? Just to be mean?
  12. May 21, 2010 #11
    I've read what I can, but NK denies everything, and I can't even speculate as to why! To get attention, to attempt to "put others in their place", a mistake, or madness perhaps. Maybe we have some experts on the Korean conflict who have a real idea, to me it seems irrational.
  13. May 21, 2010 #12
    The first thing you have to consider when evaluating the PRK's actions is that their entire society basically exists to subsidize Kim Jung Il's lavish lifestyle. Essentially, this means the only important question is "How did Kim Jung Il benefit from this attack?"

    It's actually pretty obvious from that point. He basically told us that we're more afraid of him than he's afraid of us, and that we might as well stop wasting our time objecting to his actions. We should just continue to send our annual tributes to the Great Leader and then retreat in humiliation.
  14. May 21, 2010 #13
    That is very disturbing, but I cannot gainsay it. He makes an internal political point, makes the US and SK look weak... damn.
  15. May 22, 2010 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Interestingly enough, North and South Korea have been fighting a little naval war near the Northern Line Limit over the past decade that flares up every few years, and which has sunk a ship or two and (now) cost the lives of around 70 or so sailors on either side:

    The ROKS Cheonan (the ship which was just sunk) was actually damaged during the first engagement (link taken from the Wikipedia on the ship):

    As to why? Mark Hosenball at Newsweek thinks it was evening up the balance sheet for the above two (and another skirmish mentioned in the third link):
    http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/declassified/archive/2010/05/21/why-did-north-korea-sink-the-south-korean-ship.aspx [Broken]

    Simon Tisdale at the Guardian thinks that, erratic though it may seem, it's the sign of Kim Jong-Il slowly losing his grip, and giving in to the hawks:

    Speculation aside, I remember reading a Dale Brown book years ago (Battle Born) where an emaciated North Korean pilots an old MiG across the DMZ, crashes, and is discovered to have been carrying a nuke. Which in turn sets off a military coup in the North (funded / organized by the South), Korean Unification, and ends up almost causing WWIII with the Chinese (where Kim flees). Granted, if the DPRK military ever face the deprivations (i.e. the starving pilot) that the civilians have, it's game over for the Kims.

    EDIT: Unfortunately, I have no idea what sort of discipline they have in the North Korean armed forces. While I have no doubt that some unit commanders / commissars are 'enthusiastic', I don't know if this would actually translate into a submarine commander firing a torpedo at a South Korean 'target of opportunity'.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. May 22, 2010 #15
    Tit-for-tat naval warfare is a bad thing.
    Perhaps they are comfortable with doing this on this level.

    What bothers me is what could come next. Ground invasion, etc...
  17. May 22, 2010 #16
    Speaking of which, would those NK leaders/generals-in-charge please refrain from smoking opium.

    Not realistic I guess.
  18. May 22, 2010 #17
    BTW, did you you know that a substantial amount of NK's income is via opium exports!
  19. May 22, 2010 #18
    Isn't that any country that isn't allied with the USA?
  20. May 22, 2010 #19
    "us" meaning whom?

    Edit: I understand. Much of he world is pissed-off at NK's actions and policies.
  21. May 22, 2010 #20
    On top of that, opium exports actually fuel their military.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook