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While we're discussing horsemeat in frozen foods

  Forum Editor 00:42 13 Feb 2013

others are getting on with the job of destabilising the world.

It's a demonstration of what can happen when a deluded, all-powerful youngster at the helm of a totalitarian state starts messing with stuff he doesn't understand.

  LastChip 01:49 13 Feb 2013

Quite right. It's a very disturbing development.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 09:58 13 Feb 2013

all-powerful youngster or just a figurehead?

Agree Nuclear weapons in the hands of regimes like North Korea or Iran prompt for worrying times.

North Korea seems to have overcome its technical difficulties rather suddenly ---

--- wonder if they are getting help from somewhere :0(

  Quickbeam 10:45 13 Feb 2013

And in the meantime we could solve our national financial worries at a stroke by dumping our independent nuclear deterrent. Since the end of the cold war, do we really expect to go nuking troublesome tinpot states.

  Forum Editor 11:38 13 Feb 2013

fourm member

"It is only China that can do anything worthwhile."

Exactly, but China needs to be nudged into doing it. That nudge can be, and is being applied by America. Obama, regardless of what he or his Secretary of State might say, will not take any direct military action unless North Korea reaches the stage where it starts to test fire missiles with nuclear warheads. If that was to happen the missiles would be destroyed in flight by US forces, in which case it would be crucial to have China on side.

South Korea is understandably very twitchy about the situation in the North, and behind the scenes America will be reassuring the South Koreans about American military support if things get nasty.

Potentially there could be very serious consequences to any escalation of the North Korean nuclear weapons programme, and everyone - including China - will be hoping that the megalomaniac involved is brought under control by his military commanders and advisers.

China is now a world superpower in military terms (it's defence budget is second only to America's) and it's time that the Chinese government starting acting tough with North Korea.

  Armchair 15:36 13 Feb 2013

Probably just another'storm in a teacup'.

  woodchip 16:20 13 Feb 2013

Your Kia Seven year warranty will not be much good if they start poping these of at the south

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 17:13 13 Feb 2013

and its not just cars Kia and Hyundai

South Korean economy is the 11th largest economy in the world and the third largest in Asia.

South Korean industries include: the textile and steel sectors; shipbuilding; car manufacturing and electronics (especially semiconductors, of which South Korea is the world’s largest producer).

South Korea is leader in the IT sector. Leading firms in this sector are Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

  pavvi 02:17 14 Feb 2013

I am an ambassador for the South Korean Department of Justice and have visited Hyundai Heavy Industries plant and Hyundai Motors Plant in Ulsan on the eastern side of S Korea they are both huge. I toured the shipbuilding part of the HHI and they are building ships 500m long. It started with the original owner Chung Ju Yun taking a massive gamble. He took two large orders for shipbuilding when he didn't even have a shipyard. He got a loan from Barclays with no qualifications and Barclays took the risk. It is now the 3rd largest shipbuilding yard in the world. He then set up Hyundai Motors which has the largest car plant in the world in Ulsan, making many many cars every day. in fact 6,000 a day. The family broke apart after his death and his assets were split between his sons.

The Hyundai family also owns high class department stores that are the equal of Harrods. each one has a culture hall and I have performed in many of them. The Hyundai story is quite a story, and the Korean people have a strong work ethic. "Face" enters politics and social and work life and this makes relationships in the Asian area very difficult. It's common across Asia, but is particularly pronounced in Korea and Japan. It's one of the reasons why it is quite difficult to get a sensible answer as they are reluctant to say no as it disturbs harmony and forces someone to lose face. Basically if someone changes the subject when you ask for something, take it as a no.

The Face issue - not losing Face is part of what keeps the conflict going. There is often posturing in order to give the impression of not backing down resulting in loss of face. This makes for stubborn truculent negotiations. It's a very complex area. The people of the south have a feeling of 'Han'. It's an expression of sorrow of separation from their kin. Whole families are separated. Some manage to escape from the North at great risk to themselves and find themselves homeless.

This means that there is a conundrum. The South wants reunification. They have a ministry of reunification. But discussions often have large preconditions and there is large distrust and paranoia which the whole 'face' issue exacerbates. I have been to Korea 10 times and am due to go back there in May. It is a beautiful country with high mountains and beautiful coastlines.

  pavvi 02:19 14 Feb 2013

Korean people in the south also never describe themseves as 'south' korean. Simply "Korean". in their hearts they don't accept the separation. It's the same in the north but each have their own determination of what a united Korea would be.

  pavvi 09:48 14 Feb 2013

Neither Korean nor Japanese has a direct word for no. Japanese just doesn't have one whereas the Korean word is the same as "Sorry". While it is rarely said, it can be demonstrated through attitude and this encourages things to fester.

This I think is an extra complication that the area doesn't need, but is inbuilt into their culture. There are many intracacies that i have witnessed by observation. All of these play on the Asian Psyche and on the Korean one in particular, especially as it is divided by war and mistrust. It's very much one step forward two steps back. Especially if there is an election in the south as the Government will not want to appear weak or else it would not get elected. This led to a hard line from the South in the recent elections which strained things further.

The North makes these noises because it is perceived as being backward and wants to prove the world wrong to avoid losing face. It has of course already done that by using violent threats, but it won't admit that as it won't accept it. This whole feeling feeds across the whole of Asia, Iran etc as well but not as obviously as in South East Asia, but it is there. If you force them to lose face then it is like backing a feral cat into a wall. He will use all means to escape. This is the challenge that the US and the UK have from the middle east to Asia.

It's complex and often gets tilted by election campaigns in the east and the west, as the West also doesn't want to lose face but expresses it in different ways.

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