South Korea Halts Trade with North in Torpedo Aftermath

May 25, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

|Video Courtesy of NTDTV |

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced several measures against the North on Monday during a televised speech, in response to confirmation that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan, a South Korean naval vessel.

The most punishing measure is the suspension of almost all trade between the rival countries. If the ban comes into force, North Korea will loose 14.5 percent of its external trade and $253 million in annual cash revenue, according to estimates from the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Another measure is prohibiting North Korean ships from passing through South Korea’s waters, forcing the North to use extra fuel by making detours.

“From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain the principle of proactive deterrence. If our territorial waters, airspace, or territory are violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense,” said the president in his speech.

Lee Myung-bak also asked the United Nations Security Council to punish North Korea. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the press that some measures must be taken, but did not provide any specifics.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a press conference at the War Memorial on May 24, in Seoul, South Korea. President Lee announced he will impose sanctions on North Korea for sinking one of its naval ships. (Presidential House via Getty Images)
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a press conference at the War Memorial on May 24, in Seoul, South Korea. President Lee announced he will impose sanctions on North Korea for sinking one of its naval ships. (Presidential House via Getty Images)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed American support for South Korean defense, calling the measures “entirely appropriate.”

Clinton also said that they are in the midst of intensive consultations with the Chinese regime, North Korea’s traditional and closest ally. China has not yet publicly taken a side on the issue.

The international investigation group released their findings on May 20, confirming that the warship had been hit by a torpedo linked to North Korea. The assault sank the ship and killed all 46 crew members on board, making it one of the deadliest attacks since the Korean War in 1953.

The communist regime denied responsibility for the incident. A North Korean spokesman threaten to use various measures including “all-out war” if any punishment or sanctions are brought against the nation that threaten their state interests.

A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said that joint naval exercises with South Korea would be conducted in the near future. The main goals of the maneuvers will be to increase the allies’ ability to detect North Korean submarines and possible shipments of nuclear material.

South Korea also announced its intention to resume, after a six-year hiatus, loudspeaker broadcasts to the north from speakers installed near the north-south border. North Korea responded promptly that they would fire at them with artillery shells.