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Clinton's brief incursion onto N. Korea turf draws guard's attention

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert Gates finally got North Korea's attention Wednesday - by making an incursion across the border into communist territory.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates draw a North Korean guard's interest. (Paul J. Richards-AP)

The secretary of state and defense secretary haven't had much luck persuading the hermit regime in Pyongyang to take responsibility for the deadly March attack on the Cheonan, a South Korean warship. So far, North Korea has ignored threats of U.S-South Korean military exercises and new financial sanctions, shrugging off accusations that it was to blame for torpedoing the Cheonan and killing 46 South Korean sailors.

But North Korean guards were quick to take notice as soon as Clinton and Gates took a few steps onto their soil during a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone on Wednesday, the no-man's land that has separated the two countries since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

As part of their tour of the DMZ, the two secretaries entered a trailer-sized conference building - administered by the U.N. Command Military Armistice Commission - that is bisected by the North-South border. The building serves as a neutral meeting spot for both sides and features a small conference table in the middle.

Guided by U.N. and U.S. soldiers, Clinton and Gates walked around the conference table and strode momentarily onto North Korea's turf. While allowed under U.N. rules, the movements attracted the scrutiny of at least one North Korean guard outside the building, who walked up to a window and at gawked directly at the U.S. visitors, just a few arm-lengths away.

U.S. soldiers stationed at the DMZ said the North Koreans regularly engage in such peeping tom behavior whenever VIPs or tourists visit the conference building; apparently, it's meant as an intimidation tactic.

-- Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung.

By Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung  | July 21, 2010; 9:24 AM ET
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The U.S. policy towards North Korea is totally stupid. In the past few years North Korea has sent signals that they wanted to resolve some of the issues between them and the U.S. Most South Koreans would like to reunite the country but the U.S. steadfastly opposes reunification. In addition the current South Korean government has worsened what had been improving relations between the two Koreas. The current military "exercize" in the Sea of Japan is very dangerous. Seoul is within easy range of North Korean artillery and missile systems. What is the U.S. going to do if the North Koreans attack South Korea? Go to war with China? Not very smart.

Posted by: jimeglrd8 | July 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"apparently, it's meant as an intimidation tactic." Apparently, that's shoddy reporting. Either it is, or it isn't, and if you don't know, don't say.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | July 21, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

This is not an intimidation tactic perpetrated by North Koreans - a paranoid interpretation by these writers and apparently u.s government people. How about the fact they go up to the window is that they feel protective of their turf. It's their duty. Also they feel diminished by western powers and not respected? Instead, once again, we have a republican mentality at work, - paranoid delusion and turf wars - rather than genuinely empathizing with other human beings and where they may really be "coming from?"

Posted by: eeave | July 21, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

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