Send the subs back into port, and stand down the artillery pieces. The two Koreas have reached an agreement that stops the “semi” state of war that erupted over the last few days, with a statement of regret from Pyongyang over the maiming of two South Korean soldiers. Seoul will stop its broadcasts of propaganda over loudspeakers on the DMZ, and in general both sides will return to the status quo ante. That means they’ll keep hating each other, but will do so more quietly for a while:
North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday to end astandoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.
Under the accord reached after midnight on Tuesday morning after more than two days of talks, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in a landmine incident and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.
North Korea also agreed to end the “semi” state of war it had declared. The two sides will hold follow-up talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties, the joint statement said.
This may help cool passions, which got rather heated in the South. Republic of Korea police had to contain this angry protest outside the DMZ in which demonstrators got into shoving matches and destroyed DPRK flags:
South Korea ended up getting the better of this standoff, at least at first blush. Pyongyang still hasn’t taken responsibility for the mine blasts that wounded two soldiers, but the statement of “regret” is a far cry from their saber-rattling over the last few days. Supposedly morale was so high that North Koreans were enlisting in the military for the next Glorious War, but the retreat may indicate that morale was nowhere near as high as it was in the South. Sending out the subs didn’t subdue the protests in the south; if anything, it made them even more determined.
In some totalitarian regimes, a walkback like this would have cost lives at the top of the political food chain. It will be interesting to see if that happens in Pyongyang over the next few weeks.