Asia-Pacific

Regional media reaction to Korea attack

North Korea's attack on a South Korean island has been roundly condemned by the regional media. South Korean commentators called for swift retaliation, arguing that the impunity of the North was encouraging it to commit more serious provocations.

Image caption South Korean commentators have called for an end to the North's impunity

One Chinese pundit, while not explicitly defending North Korea's actions, argued that the communist state had been provoked by recent military exercises by US and South Korean forces near the maritime border. North Korea's official news agency pursued this line, blaming the South for escalating tensions.

Russian writers speculated on the motivation for the attack, with one analyst pointing to a troubled succession in the country. Indonesian and Japanese editorials called for international mediation to ensure a return to negotiations on the peninsula.

EDITORIAL IN SOUTH KOREA'S JOONGANG DAILY

With our memories of the Korean War still vivid, this massive attack reaffirms the grim reality that such a tragedy can be repeated at any time. We strongly warn the North that if it still prefers to play with fire, it is destined to be demolished by the fire it starts... The provocation is a direct attack against the South. This provocation justifies any retaliation by us.

EDITORIAL IN SOUTH KOREA'S DONG-A ILBO

This incident has demonstrated yet again how dangerous and ineffective dialogue and negotiations are in changing Pyongyang... An old saying has it that if you want peace, you must prepare for war. As the North has crossed the line in committing this aggression, the South has no choice but to correct this misdeed through a powerful counter-attack.

REPORT BY NORTH KOREA'S KCNA NEWS AGENCY

The [South Korean President] Lee Myung-bak group's treacherous and anti-reunification acts are intolerable... and drove the situation to the brink of war, against the will of all Koreans. The Lee group of traitors will never escape more severe punishment [for] its efforts to escalate the confrontation.

ZHOU QINGAN IN CHINA'S XIN JING BAO

The incident has worsened the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, but it has not reached the brink of collapse... Military drills by the US and South Korea have added to North Korea's sense of insecurity. So this requires further restraint and the exercise of reason by both sides. In addition, the stalled six-party talks need to be restarted as soon as possible.

SHEN DINGLI IN CHINA'S XINWEN CHENBAO

By showing the [nuclear plant] centrifuges to the US and launching an artillery attack North Korea has fully demonstrated its heartfelt contempt for the six-party talks... The strategic goal of the six-party talks is completely the opposite of North Korea's. North Korea is certain that the possession of nuclear weapons will not merely maintain stability on the peninsula, it can also bring it greater benefits.

EDITORIAL IN JAPAN'S ASAHI SHIMBUN

Pyongyang, in short, is doing whatever it pleases, and this is just not acceptable. China, on which North Korea relies for its economic and energy needs, bears a heavy responsibility. As the presiding nation of the six-party talks, China should do whatever it can to bring North Korea back to the right path, not just keep protecting it.

EDITORIAL IN RUSSIA'S VEDOMOSTI

The international community has become accustomed to North Korea's tactic of provoking a local crisis, then entering into talks and receiving humanitarian aid; and, perhaps, it is a bit tired of it. On the other hand, it is cheaper to supply rice to Pyongyang than to fight with it. You cannot simply leave the North Koreans to their own devices, as accurate data on their nuclear programme are lacking, and it is unclear whether they are bluffing. Pyongyang does not need a war either. With nuclear arms or without them, this would be a war of self-destruction.

DMITRY MOSYAKOV IN RUSSIA'S KOMMERSANT

The handover of power from [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il is not taking place without difficulties. There is a conflict between moderate reformers, who talk about the need to liberalize the regime and attract foreign investment, and aggressive conservatives, who represent the military industrial complex and are interested in maintaining tensions and keeping the country balancing on the brink of war.

EDITORIAL IN INDONESIA'S REPUBLIKA

Armed clashes have finally taken place on the Korean peninsula. There is no country which can stop the small war, not even the US, Japan, Russia or China... What we can do is urge China and Russia to warn North Korea not to launch attacks on South Korea. We also hope that the US and Japan do not ask South Korea to provoke North Korea, by carrying out joint military exercises for example. Indonesia, which claims to be one of the big players, should have a key role in this Korean conflict.

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