Norway blasts North Korean attack

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Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Norway’s government condemned North Korea’s attack on South Korean territory this week, not least since it hit the civilian population. Several Koreans living in Norway, meanwhile, don’t expect it will escalate to full war.

Protesters shout slogans while holding defamed portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (R) and his son Kim Jong-un at a rally denouncing North Korea in Seoul November 24, 2010. South Korea warned North Korea of enormous retaliation if it took more aggressive steps after Pyongyang fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbour since the Korean War ended in 1953. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST)

The most well-known Korean living in Norway, Lee Chul Ho, the so-called “noodle king Mr Lee,” told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that North Korea was stirring an uproar to get some aid and attention. Lee said they were “playing with fire,” but have done so before. He tied the attack to North Korea’s need for more food and because a new, young leader is taking over who needs to show strength.

There are 39 North Koreans registered as living in Norway, and 795 South Koreans, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Juhyung Cho, working on her masters degree in east Asian studies at the University of Oslo, told  Aftenposten she closely follows developments between North and South Korea and was “shocked” over the attack. Daniel Hillarøy, who was adopted from South Korea, has worked there and visits the country every year, said he thinks North Korea is trying to show off its military might and that open warfare “was completely unthinkable.”

Støre, meanwhile, told reporters the attack was “unacceptable” and that “we condemn the shooting from North Korea that also hit civilians.” He was worried by the level of weapons on both sides, “so we have to do all we can” to hinder any escalation of hostilities.

He joined a long list of other countries urging both North and South Korea to exhibit restraint and make diplomatic contact possible. “It’s an extremely serious situation when these two countries engage in intense military tension,” he said. He backed plans for a UN Security Council meeting on the issue, but said the few diplomatic channels that exist between North and South Korea must get involved.

Støre said new sanctions against North Korea, though, “aren’t the way to go,” because they could hit the civilian population harder than the government.

Norway’s embassy in South Korea was following the situation closely and issuing advisories to the many Norwegians doing business in South Korea. The embassy didn’t see any immediate security threats to Norwegians in South Korea, most of whom live in Pusan and on the island of Kodje in the southern part of the country.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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