Netizen Thoughts on the DPRK/South Korea Situation

You may be aware that yesterday, South Korean officials announced the results of the joint investigation conducted by inspectors from several countries into the sinking of a South Korean warship near waters that are contested by the DPRK (i.e., North Korea). 46 South Korean navy members died as a result of the sinking. To no one’s surprise, these investigations revealed that the torpedo ((In the process of writing this piece, I learned that the Chinese word for torpedo is 鱼雷, which might be very loosely rendered as something like “fish lightning”. Awesome.))that sunk the warship almost certainly came from a small North Korean submarine. The US has condemned the attack and promised there will be consequences for North Korea. China has been more reticent, although news stories in State-approved media have printed stories on the damning results of the report, as well as the DPRK’s fervent denial and accusations of fraud.

On his blog, Zhang Wen has summarized the main points of the story, and then kick-started a discussion. He writes:

“What’s surprising is that with a story this big, China’s three main internet news portals didn’t mention it [immediately yesterday morning,] (they did in the afternoon). Just now I saw this story of Sina, but when I clicked on the link I got the “This page does not exist” error message, and soon [the link on the front page] disappeared.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no need to hide it; using this kind of measure in the internet age is really too little. And that’s leaving aside the fact that what happens next on the Korean peninsula will affect all of us the most, and with ironclad proof in front of us and 46 lives lost, how should China continue to stand with North Korea?”

Zhang often poses open questions like this on his blog to start discussion. So far, this has attracted thirty responses, some of which we’ve translated below:

“Discussion after just these few days of investigation is rash. It took a year of investigation before the “South China Tiger” became the “Zhou Tiger” ((Reference to a recent scandal involving a faked photograph of the rare South China Tiger)), now that’s what you call thorough.”

“Having a guard dog can be a good thing, as sometimes it can bark and warn you, or do things that are inconvenient [but advantageous] for the owner to do. But there’s no use keeping a dog that brings disaster and bites the hand that feeds it. You often see stories in the news of fierce dogs that eat their owners. So it’s good to let others beat your dog, otherwise he won’t know the feeling of pain. If you spoil a dog he’ll be disloyal, and if you try to keep him from the kitchen he’ll always find a way in… [i.e., if it’s clear that China is restraining North Korea it may come back to hurt China in the future, but if China allows other countries to do this, it keeps North Korea in line for them]”

“So they found a fragment of the torpedo casing with the serial number. North Koran probably didn’t expect that when they were denying this yesterday.”

“We must not associate ourselves with renegade countries [like North Korea]!”

“This never happened. Hehe.”

[In response to the above commenter:] “According to my father, as long as North Korea doesn’t admit to anything, this won’t go anywhere too serious.”

“Despicable, and it’s not just the DRPK that’s being despicable.”

“Fuck, if it was China’s warship that was attacked, I fear there would have to be some kind of response…”

“My guess is three words: same as before.”

“[Another news story today] said that China is supporting sanctions for Iran. I’m not surprised by this, because although they are sanctions, the sanctions that came out of over twenty rounds of Sino-US debate are very far from the original plan the Americans wanted in February. This process has killed two birds with one stone, in that it has served China’s interests and provided a big discount on the “sanctions”. Comparing this to North Korea, I would estimate that at the end of the day, the results will be similar to what happened with the Iran sanctions.”

What do you think? We may translate further comments as Zhang Wen’s blog accrues them. Also, today is your last chance to fill out our reader survey if you haven’t already.

0 thoughts on “Netizen Thoughts on the DPRK/South Korea Situation”

  1. 1. I wonder what the North Korean people will think when/if the Kim regime collapses and they learn how the Chinese government cooperated over the years with the DPRK leadership in its efforts to oppress them, repatriate NK refugees, complicate N-S reunification efforts, etc.

    2. Doesn’t Chinese support of the Kim regime constitute interference in the affairs of a divided Korean state? On the one hand, China angrily asserts its sovereignty over Taiwan; on the other, China continues to pursue a foreign policy that may be interpreted as promoting the division of the Korean penninsula. At the very least, if Chinese claims of non-interference are to be taken seriously, shouldn’t China then be more respectful of the South’s position in the matter of the sunken ship?

    For my part, I hope that South Korea and the West continue to make big hay over China’s continued support of the Kim regime.


  2. China can’t continue the way it has been for the past 10 – 20 years regarding North Korea. It will start to feel less and less comfortable supporting the North as it feels more pressure to play ball with international norms and live up to its promise as a normal state. These changes won’t happen overnight but I think the best days of North Korea – China friendship are probably over.

    Interesting contrast with Myanmar: China’s support of Myanmar will probably long outlive its support for the North, mostly because it has less U.S. pressure here. The U.S. needs a stable Korean peninsula, but has fewer vital interests in SE Asia (for the near future anyway).


  3. Chris Hearne: “The U.S. needs a stable Korean peninsula, but has fewer vital interests in SE Asia (for the near future anyway).”

    Wrong. Perhaps the single most vital U.S. interest in Asia is preventing China from establishing regional hegemony. As such, South East Asia is a vital part of U.S. strategy. Indeed, South East Asian leaders appear to be thinking along the very same lines (i.e., China must not be allowed to achieve the kind of regional hegemony in Asia that the U.S. enjoys in the western hemisphere). Lee Kwan Yew (former prime minister of Singapore), for example, angered many Chinese last fall when he suggested that the U.S. should maintain a strong presence in East and SE Asia in order to balance China’s growing strength in the region.


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