Peter Yu. Samoylenko

Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok Russian Institute for Strategical Studies, Moscow

Abstract: Article is devoted to the problems of marine and logistic security on Korean Peninsula and in adjacent area. Author analyses modern situation in the region and its influence on trade shipping. The most important points in the analysis of this problem seem the following: how it is discussed in mass-media; what main difficulties and stereotypes are present; the influence of marine warships’ exercises and testing of rocket systems on developing the regional and world trade and marine and transcontinental logistics.

Keywords: Korean Peninsula, seaports, shipping, sea transport, logistics, cooperation in Asia-Pacific, maritime education, Arctic projects, container services, marine security

At present the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains as one of the main problems for the regional security in Northeast Asia. Contradictions between the DPRK and South Korea based on the absence of a peace treaty and political confrontation affect the ongoing tension in this part of the region. One of the important components in this problem is the marine security in the area near the Korean Peninsula and its various aspects. In general, the problem of the Korean Peninsula is multiple, even from the point of view of military security issues, and also affects non-military issues, for example, the safety of merchant shipping in the waters of the open sea in the close vicinity of the coast of Korea [4].

One of the main factors that shape the image of the Korean problem as a source of instability in the Asia-Pacific is media publications that cover various military aspects and threats. This includes, first of all, the problem of nuclear weapons in the North Korea, as well as testing of missile systems and naval exercises, which are held by the DPRK and South Korea almost on annual basis and quickly become a pretext for accusations of preparation for military actions [8].

In fact, if we analyze the situation on the Korean Peninsula in terms of security, we can make a fairly obvious conclusion that the issues of two countries’ unification have become much less discussed, as well as the problems of legal relations between them after the 1950-1953 war [13].

An analysis of media content and expert opinions shows that the main topics, related to security on the Korean Peninsula today, are the following:

– Tests by the DPRK of various missile systems, ranging from cruise missiles and other types of theater-level weapons (theater of operations) to the tests of strategic missile weapons, primarily ballistic missiles or similar carriers used for peaceful purposes, for example, the launch of satellites into Earth orbit, but which can be used also in military terms [12]. It is these tests, conducted by North Korea fairly regularly, which cause massive negative publications in the Western media and rather aggressive rhetoric towards the DPRK itself, up to accusations of preparing to wage war. At the same time, in addition to the direct aspects of testing such weapons, the way they are carried out is also important, since in a number of cases the launched missiles fell already outside the territory of North Korea, including the waters of the Sea of Japan and South China Sea within neutral waters. At the same time, in addition to the direct aspects of testing such weapons, the way they are carried out is also important, since in a number of cases the launched missiles fell already outside the territory of North Korea, including in the waters of the Japan and South China Seas within neutral waters. These facts indicate a potential threat to merchant shipping and other types of civil shipping conducted in these areas of the Pacific.

The problem is that, from the point of view of international maritime law, the biggest problems may arise for merchant ships, which can navigate in such areas without any restrictions and approvals. At the same time, fishing vessels should coordinate their movements within special economic zone, that is, in a sufficiently large distance from the sea border. There are still no precedents for damage caused to merchant ships, but this does not mean that such problems cannot arise in the future.

– The development of North Korea’s own nuclear weapons, even outside the framework of missiles’ issue as the means of delivery.

This area of North Korean defense policy is usually interpreted not so much as a resource for ensuring the national territory’s defense, as the authorities of this country have repeatedly stated, but as a potential tool for attacking other states, such as South Korea, Japan or the US. Despite the fact that the scenario of such development of events, in principle, seems unlikely, nevertheless, it is in this direction that any news regarding the DPRK nuclear program are most often discussed.

– Naval exercises conducted by South Korea (usually together with US Navy warships) in the waters in the immediate vicinity of the Korean Peninsula. It is interpreted by North Korea as working out of potential scenarios for attack on its territory by the joint forces of South Korea and the US (an additional reason is the constant presence of large contingents of American military personnel on the territory of the Republic of Korea at military bases).

It should be noted that these problems are mainly considered from a military-political point of view taking into account the chance of actual military conflicts on the Korean Peninsula or in the sea water area near it (ranging from border or local conflicts to full- scale military operations). At the same time, given the rapid economic development of a number of countries in Asia-Pacific, there are potential threats to maritime security, as well as to the economic interests of many countries, including Russia [10]

In general, the features of today’s development in Northeast Asia today are associated with the active development of industrial production and the accompanying international transport logistics.

The region includes developed states, for example: Japan, China and South Korea. A significant share of these countries’ economies is export-oriented industrial production.
A significant amount of various raw materials – timber, coal, grain, oil, are transported to these states by sea routes, finished consumer goods are exported also from the seaports of these countries, that is, container services work mainly. Accordingly, some of these shipments run near the Korean Peninsula, and such transshipments may be vulnerable to a wide range of dangers, from falling missiles during conducted tests to military maritime operations near the coast of the Peninsula.

It should also be noted that the relevance of this situation is largely influenced by the macroeconomic changes that have taken place in the world over the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic, and changed part of the cargo flows in the world trade. These changes, by the way, significantly increase the interest of the Russian Federation in ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and, accordingly, security of adjacent sea routes, since this directly affects Russia’s modern economic interests [11].

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