Korean Territorial Waters
To the editor:
North Korea and South Korea are acting up again. The US-South Korean war games are being played out again. North Korea is objecting and threatening again. The USA has said we will support our ally, South Korea, but I don’t think we are getting the whole picture here about the location being used for the war games. It is northwest of Seoul, South Korea, on the border near Yeonpyeong Island. It is an area of contention between the two Koreas.
Do you know where this island is located? Take a look at a map of Korea. The island is only 7 miles from mainland North Korea but about 35 miles from anything that could be considered mainland South Korea. However, the boundary line that the United Nations established at the end of the Korean War between the North and South put the island just south of the line, so it would be inside South Korean territory for defense purposes.
But almost 30 years later the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 set the worldwide maritime territorial limit at 12 nautical miles. North Korea, South Korea and the United States all signed that agreement. That is significant because this island is way outside the 12-mile territorial limit of South Korea but five miles INSIDE the 12-mile territorial limit of North Korea. North Korea has never accepted the UN boundary line. They claim that the line should be farther to the south, to the logical 12-mile limit.
South Korea has established a military base there and they hold their live-fire military exercises in the surrounding waters, in spite of it being so close to North Korea. So doesn’t it sound reasonable that North Korea would object, especially having rejected the United Nations boundary line in the first place? And maybe fire back? That is the danger.
Why can’t South Korea hold their military exercise a hundred miles to the south instead of in an area that is guaranteed to antagonize the North? The South is our ally. But they are risking our future. Again. Do we really want to send our young people over to Korea to die in a war as a result of South Korea’s insensitive actions over some disputed island? It is time for some cooler heads to prevail. The sooner the better.