Even under its most virulent anti-Communist leaders, South Korea has responded to past attacks, including the 1987 downing of a South Korean airliner, with palpable anger but little action. In at least one of those cases — the bombing that killed the cabinet members — a revenge attack was planned but never carried out. In others, under a liberal government, leaders reacted by trying harder to nudge the North back to the negotiating table on its nuclear program.
Those relatively mild responses were before the North effectively changed the calculus of retribution by forging ahead with a nuclear program, making what intelligence experts say is fuel for at least eight nuclear weapons, or possibly the bombs themselves.
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