Missile firing, military drills, defense upgrading ... the tit-for-tat confrontation between Pyongyang and Seoul has become a sickening old play staged annually in Northeast Asia, and is crippling the chips of all concerned on the Korean peninsula.
Pyongyang's launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday, so far the most substantial reaction to the ongoing Seoul-Washington military exercises and the U.S. escalating deployment in its Japanese bases, has once against sparked anxiety in the south of the 38th Parallel.
An emergency gathering in the UN Security Council was called for, and the United States and Japan have vowed to take countermeasures against Pyongyang's action.
But all the parties concerned need to remember that Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s move is but a routine response to its south neighbor's annual joint drills with the United States, which Pyongyang has taken as nothing but an act of hostility and menace to its national security.
Literally, the exacerbation of rivalry is pricking up the specter of a warfare. But it is most disheartening to see the refusal of both sides on the peninsula to take seriously the consequences of their bigoted limit-pushing calculations.
South Korea, in a reckless manner, has bet all chips on the United States. Its two months' joint drills, described by the DPRK as "nuclear war maneuvers," and the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, have been, once again, a manifestation of its self-serving response to the most complicated geopolitical quagmire in the world.
The DPRK, for its part, has to face the reality that it can neither thwart Washington and Seoul nor consolidate its security in a breeze with its immature nuclear technology.
The recent developments are depriving Seoul, and Pyongyang as well, of their chips. Any effort to push the peninsula to a simmering point in the name of self-defense would risk the overturning of the boat that the two nations actually share, something they seem to have failed to recognize even till now.
China's engagement in stemming the sprout of a warfare on the peninsula and secure its denuclearization remains unswerving, but such good faith cannot be taken by any other sides to blackmail Beijing in return. Parties disregarding China's mediation efforts have to bear their fair share of the aftermath, however calamitous it dooms to be.
As for U.S. President Donald Trump, it has never been too late to remind him of the complexity of the peninsular issue. After all, the lessons of his predecessors in this regard have proved the necessity to keep his feet on the ground, and take into consideration the concerns of all relevant parties instead of just his allies.