Kim Jong-il Is Looking for a Way out of the Crisis - Newsweek.com
By all appearances, the Korean peninsula is a tinderbox: since South Korea blamed its northern neighbor for sinking the warship Cheonan in March, the countries have ratcheted up the rhetoric, threatened to blast propaganda across the border, cut off trade, and tried to draw allies like Washington and Beijing to their side. North Korea has put on a show of denial and intransigence. Its National Defense Commission claimed the investigation was a “farce” and threatened an “all-out war” if Seoul and the international community slap sanctions on the North; in fact, four North Korean submarines have been missing from a naval base since Monday, putting the Southern navy on high alert.
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But this isn’t quite the meltdown it appears to be. While Kim is publicly holding firm, behind the scenes his government seems to be trying to find a way out of the fracas. Its language has become more moderate, it may be contemplating an apology, and it may already have punished a naval commander in connection with the torpedo attack. That means the crisis is likely to fall far short of the “all-out war” the North initially promised. The softer side of Kim Jong-il’s regime, it seems, wants out of this crisis, stat.