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North Korea vs. South Korea: Rising Tensions Could Lead To War

Amid another night of talks between North Korea and South Korea aimed at defusing tensions, reports emerged of large scale North Korean (DPRK) military maneuvers. Along the border, DPRK artillery strength has doubled, special forces have possibly been moved, while a majority of its submarines appear to have been deployed. In the words of a senior official at Seoul’s Defense Ministry, “This is an extremely grave situation”. So far, two days of talks between both countries have failed to produce a positive result and this deployment by the North seems to be aimed at keeping tensions high.

North Korea vs South Korea

Lead up

On August 10th, two South Korean soldiers lost their legs to landmines near the DMZ. The DPRK was blamed for having planted them though Pyongyang has repeatedly denied its involvement. As a result, South Korea for the first time in more than a decade resumed propaganda broadcasts over the DMZ. Thursday, August 20th saw an artillery exchange between the North and South. Several DPRK shells landed in a remote area of South Korea without damage though in response South Korean forces targeted dozens of shells at the source of the DPRK artillery. Pyongyang has said that the broadcasts were the reason for the artillery exchange and shortly after submitted a threat of further attacks if propaganda broadcasts failed to stop within 48 hours.

As a result, South Korea and the U.S. on Friday raised their five-stage Watch Condition by one notch to level 2, allowing them to boost stealth and reconnaissance activities with a variety of intelligence systems. On the other side of the border, Kim Jong-un placed frontline troops in full combat readiness, declaring a “quasi-state of war.” Since then both countries have been conducting talks to reduce the potential for escalation though the military deployments of the North over the weekend show that it is keen to undermine the talks.

Military deployment

In speaking with reporters, an unnamed senior official for the South Korean Defense Ministry said, "Seventy percent of North Korea's submarines left their bases, and their locations are not confirmed"; a figure that equates to 50 DPRK submarines. He added...