According to The Korea Times, the US government is hinting that North Korea probably is responsible for sinking the Cheonan. You can read this account here. Most people here do believe that North Korea is possibly responsible. One really can’t imagine China doing something like this. South Korea and China now have excellent diplomatic relations, a shock North Korea is still reeling from even now. Once the reports are completed, it is likely that South Korea will take this matter up with the United Nations. They do want to to have the support of Russia and China. President Lee was in Beijing just recently conferring with President Hu Jintao of the PRC, but this article highlights just how difficult it will be to gain Beijing’s support for any retaliation.
Nevertheless, the Minister of Defence, Kim Tae-young as well as Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Kim Sung-chan have vowed retaliation. Whether or not there will be any retaliation is anybody’s guess. North Korea has attacked South Korea several times since the armistice of 1953. Agents of North Korea assisinated the wife of President Park Chung-hee as well as 18 government ministers of the cabinet of former President Chun Doo-hwan. Additionally, Kim Jong-il played a role in the 1980s bombing of a Korean Air jetliner.
If there is a war, South Korea stands to lose a great deal. Nearly half of the nation’s population lives in either Seoul or surrounding Gyeonggi Province, which is where I currently live. (I could literally commute to North Korea if I had to.) The South has generally not retaliated because of this and other issues. Given that Russia and China are generally supportive of North Korea, one wonders what they will do in the Security Council where they have veto power.