Fletcher in the News

DPRK May Launch a Missile Now That US-ROK Exercises Are Over: Prof. Lee

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

As South Korea and US end military drills, how will North Korea react?

The US-South Korea annual military exercises ended without incident on Tuesday, perhaps allowing a chance for weeks of tensions on the Korean peninsula to enter an indefinite period of calm.

The annual military defensive exercises are intended to act as a deterrent to North Korea through shows of military prowess. North Korea, however, called the two month-long exercises an aggressive invasion threat and promised military retaliation if provoked directly.

But now that the exercises are over, the North could tell its people that its own military successfully warded off the threat, conceivably allowing it enter dialogue with the South without appearing to lose face. But some analysts argue that as the general atmosphere has cooled, action by North Korea could actually be more likely.

“Now that the exercises are over, this is an opportune time for a missile launch,” says Sung-yoon Lee, professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. “Now that their adversaries have their guard down, they could go ahead with a launch now, ahead of the upcoming summit between Obama and Park Geun-hye, to put pressure on Park.”

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