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Amid tensions on Korean peninsula, patterns revealed in Kim's behavior

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South Korea has launched psychological warfare over the sinking of its ship, while North Korea has said its troops are braced for war. The rising tension on the peninsula is worrying many. (May 25)

South Korea and the Obama administration announced Monday they would initiate joint anti-submarine military exercises off the coast where the Cheonan sank March 26.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also said his government would reinforce combat capabilities and he announced trade sanctions, including a ban on all imports and exports with the North and the closure of South Korean waters to ships from the North.

Based on its history, North Korea seems likely to use these moves as further evidence of scheming by U.S.-backed forces to destabilize a small but proud state. There are almost 29,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.

"Heightening public awareness of that threat is likely to divert attention from the regime's ongoing failures on the economic front," said Myers.

International tension could also prop up a murky succession process underway in North Korea.

Kim, who is 68 and ailing, has been slowly moving to hand power over to his third son, Kim Jong Eun, 27. Many analysts believe the succession has little support among North Koreans weary of the Kim family dynasty.

"While outside pressure may worsen North Korea's economic situation, it could be beneficial for solidifying internal control and establishing the succession," said Koh Yu-whan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Special correspondent Yoonjung Seo contributed to this report.


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