Sunday, May 30, 2010
Attack Bares South Korea’s Complex Links to North - NYTimes.com
MUNSAN, South Korea — Like many South Koreans, Choi Byung-wook said he felt outrage over the North Korean attack that sank the warship Cheonan and killed 46 sailors. But he also said that he did not expect the hostilities to get any worse and that his nation must continue to engage the North.
“Inside, we are furious,” said Mr. Choi, 46, a government employee who shopped on a recent afternoon at a mall in this city just a few miles from the South’s heavily fortified border with North Korea. “But even with 46 dead, cutting off North Korea is not an option for us.”
My more than two years in South Korea taught me that many South Koreans are very protective of North Korea. They often see the north as a wayward sibling who must be protected from outsiders, no matter how outrageous her behavior. When North Korea misbehaves South Koreans are more likely to blame the United States, or if they are on the Korean political left, the South Korean government, than they are to blame North Korea. This is of course quite puzzling to outsiders but very typical of the South Korean mindset which is attached to the north on a very emotional level.
John H. Armwood