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Originally published Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

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Editorial: Abide North Korea’s tantrum

President Theodore Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly, and carry a big stick,” lives anew in the global response to North Korea.

Seattle Times Editorial

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the text from a Magic game card comes to mind as the best way to deal with the Piglet... MORE
South Korea should close the Kaesong industrial center. No words, no statement, just... MORE
Do not reward such behavior with the desired overreactions. Amen MORE


APPLY or invent a term: watchful waiting, purposeful patience or alert detachment. The international reaction to North Korea’s disturbing wackiness must not create excuses for more provocations by Pyongyang.

Appropriate behavior, indeed the model of a diplomatic response, was provided by foreign missions and international organizations in North Korea’s capital.

The government led by Kim Jong Un cautioned diplomats their safety could not be guaranteed in the case of armed conflict. One by one the embassies said they would stay put.

The United States apparently had second thoughts about declaring that it was repositioning military hardware in response to the first round of arm waving by the young, unknown, untested leader.

Kim’s rookie status might well be at the heart of this outbreak. A frightful display of bravado by this hereditary dictator to impress an elder generation of anxious, institutional tyrants.

“Lacking deeds, he must do with words,” noted a British observer of Kim’s behavior.

Military experts surmise that North Korea’s bellicose talk is not grounded in actual capacity to deliver on its most heinous threats.

South Korean citizens, who would suffer heavy damage from an attack, seem oblivious to the latest rants. The residents of Seoul, and even those in Pyongyang in the north, are going about their business.

The irrationally of this entire episode was defined by North Korea’s closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, north of the Demilitarized Zone. More than 120 South Korean companies employ 53,000 North Korean workers, whose wages are first routed through Pyongyang.

North Korea’s perverse efforts to draw attention to itself should not be reinforced by the outside world. Do not reward such behavior with the desired overreactions.

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