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Historical Military Provocations Prove North and South Korea Tolerance

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Since the end of the Korean War, some Americans maintain a false sense of reality toward North-South Korean tensions. What most Americans fail to realize is that the Korean Peninsula has, for many years, experienced a plethora of military engagements between the Republic of Korea Army (South) and the Democratic Peoples Republic in Korea (North).

As tensions brew on the Peninsula, more and more Westerners are getting heated with great concern toward the possibility of all-out war. Some reasoning of concern makes total sense. Let's face it, North Korea's new leader Kim Jong Un has went far beyond pushing and poking the boundaries to start a second Korean conflict/war.

It's critical however to look at some incidents that occurred in the past. These incidents demonstrate that a unique military culture of tolerance exists between North and South Korea. "Will that tolerance continue to exist" remains unknown but it is safe to say, for now, the answer is "yes."

In 1987, a Korean Air commercial passenger jet exploded over the Andaman Sea off the coast of Burma. All 115 persons on board were killed. The bombing was a North Korean attack against the South in protest of the Seoul Olympics.

After flying into North Korean airspace, a US Army Kiowa helicopter was shot down in 1994. One pilot was killed while the other lived. Thirteen days later, the living pilot was released from North Korean captivity.

Four years later in 1998, South Korea engaged a North Korean submarine that "intruded deep into South Korean territories." A team of North Korean "spies" escaped the sinking vessel and the body of at least one frogman was found near the site.

In 2010, a South Korean Island known as Yeonpyeong was struck by dozens of North Korean artillery shells. Two South Korean soldiers were killed and more than a dozen persons were injured. The atrocity raised international brows waiting for South Korea to retaliate.

The list of military hostilities between North Korea and South Korea are in many ways, "endless." According to a 2003 Congressional Research Report titled North Korea: Chronology of Provocations, 1950 - 2003, there have been well over 100 incidents or provocations between North and South Korea since 1950. Yet not one of these incidents was significant enough to start the second Korean War.

Tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula but is anything taking place there really new? That answer is obvious. Nothing taking place between the two Koreas is new. Hopefully, the culturally accepted principle of tolerance on the Peninsula goes unchanged as well.

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is author of Contracted: America's Secret Warriors.