Why North Korea Attacked the South
Many believe it is an attempt to force negotiations
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2010 8:26 AM CST
Smoke billow from Yeonpyeong island near the border against North Korea, in South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.   (AP Photo/Yonhap)
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(Newser) – Following North Korea's artillery attack on South Korea, the Los Angeles Times, reporting from Seoul, and Reuters gather early theories for what is behind the attack:

  • Forcing negotiations: A former negotiator and South Korean lawmaker calls it a "berserk" and "last-ditch" attempt "to engage Washington and Seoul" in negotiations—on the North's terms. Multiple experts agree that, as one says, the North is "strategically seeking to tilt talks concerning the contested Northern Limit Line and the peace treaty toward its advantage." Another professor calls it "the oldest trick."
  • Building support for Kim Jong Un: "The North Korean government is trying to strengthen internal unity and solidify Kim Jong Un's succession by creating tension among its people," says a professor.

  • Consolidating the military: "They are getting more confident and this move seems to be an internal consolidation of power," says an activist. "They're escalating their domestic phobia against an invented enemy. It's always against the name of the US but in this case it's South Korea, which they call the US puppet regime."
  • Showing the world they must be taken seriously: "North Korea didn't get the desired effect when it made its nuclear facility public," says a professor. "South Korea didn't back down from its hard-line policy." This was an attempt to make it clear that the North is capable of developing nuclear power and, as another expert says, "it is militarily capable and thus should not be lightly regarded."