Fletcher in the News

DPRK's Bellicose Rhetoric a Distraction for Park Geun-hye's Administration: Prof. Lee

Washington Times

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

The Korean Peninsula is fraught with tension as its new leaders engage in a battle of words and will — with the North on Monday voiding the cease-fire that halted the Korean War in 1953 and the South placing its troops on high alert.

The tense posturing on the divided peninsula shows no sign of easing soon: North Korea shut down a Red Cross hot-line that it and South Korea have used for general communication, as the South conducted military exercises with the United States on Monday. …

… North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric is a “major distraction” for the Park administration, said Sung-Yoon Lee, professor of Korea studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

“For a leader that is elected and has a term limit, at the start of her presidency, this is a most unwelcome development,” he said. “Could she have thwarted it? I don’t think so because Pyongyang has its own strategy and calculates it to be in its best interest to really paint the South Korean leader and the American leader into a corner at the start of their respective administrations.”

But under its young leader Mr. Kim, the North has received only negative attention: The United Nations in January denounced its rocket launch and, with cooperation from China, the U.N. Security Council issued sanctions on Pyongyang.

On Monday, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea for its role in supporting North Korea’s program to produce weapons of mass destruction, and the State Department separately blacklisted three North Korean officials.

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