North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong island Tuesday, killing two South Korean marines and injuring more than a dozen people. South Korea returned fire. Both sides claimed that the other fired first. While the South has engaged in past attacks – notably in November 2009, when it fired on a North Korean patrol boat, and in June 1999, when it sunk a North Korean vessel – history shows that Pyongyang is often the instigator. A 2007 report from the US Congressional Research Service documents dozens of provocations, ranging from low-level naval warfare to assassinations of South Korean cabinet officers. Here are seven examples of the North's military provocations over the past decade.
South Korea’s carrots and America's sticks have both failed to tame North Korea. There is another way. With a new regime and small, but positive changes stirring in North Korea, the international community should seize the chance and begin cultural exchanges with the North.
Kim Jong-un is preparing to take charge in North Korea, giving the Koreas a moment to ratchet down tensions. For South Korea, interest in stability runs high.