South Korea tries to get a better response to Nork aggression

NY Times:

Responding to growing public criticism after a deadly North Korean attack, President Lee Myung-bak accepted the resignation on Thursday of his defense minister and announced changes in the military’s rules of engagement to make it easier for South Korea to strike back with greater force, especially if civilians are threatened.

The government also announced plans to increase the number of troops and heavy weapons on Yeonpyeong Island, where two marines and two civilians died Tuesday in an artillery fusillade from the North.

But Mr. Lee, who came to office two years ago vowing to get tough with the North, has little maneuvering room in formulating a response. While the attack appears to have pushed anti-North Korean sentiment here to its highest level in years, there is little public support for taking military action against the North that might lead to an escalation of hostilities.

“North Korea has nothing to lose, while we have everything to lose,” said Kang Won-taek, a professor of politics at Seoul National University. “Lee Myung-bak has no choice but to soften his tone to keep this country peaceful. It is not an appealing choice, but it is the only realistic choice.”

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The need to come up with a response that does not backfire on it. So far they have not come up with one. However, an immediate defensive response that

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