Weekly Insights and Analysis

No Winners from the Sinking of the Cheonan

August 4, 2010

By Scott Snyder

Two months ago, the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan appeared to mark a turning point in inter-Korean relations. The South Korean interim investigation identified a North Korean torpedo as the cause of the sinking, providing South Korea and the United States with a strong case to take the issue to the UN Security Council and hold North Korea accountable for its actions. But the July 10 UN Presidential Statement failed to explicitly hold North Korea accountable. This series of events has turned out to represent a setback for all concerned.

Despite close coordination with the United States – most recently evidenced by the 2+2 in Seoul during which Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates reaffirmed with their South Korean counterparts the closeness of the alliance, followed by the “Invincible Spirit” naval exercises – South Korea has failed to make North Korea pay a price for its actions and has over-reached in its efforts to mobilize international condemnation of Pyongyang.

Read the full piece on the Council on Foreign Relations blog Asia Unbound.

Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He can be reached at

Related locations: Korea
Related topics: Center for U.S.-Korea Policy


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