North Korea sends surprise attack to South
By Dahlia Belinsky
North Korea launched dozens of artillery shells at Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea last Tuesday, killing four people.
Aside from the four fatalities, which consisted of two civilians and two marines, 19 people were injured. At least 50 of the shells landed on land, some of them hitting a South Korean military base.
The attack was described as an “inhuman crime,” South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said. “I cannot but be angered at their cruelty.” The attack on Yeonpyeong Island would have been unlawful even in wartime, he added, CNN reported.
According to CNN, North Korea felt the attack was justified because South Korea launched shells during a military drill in the North’s waters. The Southern military claimed that the drills were performed but the shelling was not directed towards the North.
“Houses and mountains [were] on fire and people [were being] evacuated,” a witness told a South Korean television station according to the BBC. “People [were] frightened to death.”
“If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail,” Myung-bak said in a national television address, according to CNN. “We are aware of the historic lesson that a disgraceful peace achieved through intimidation only brings about greater harm in the end.”
This attack was the first direct artillery assault since 1953, when South Korea and North Korea agreed on the armistice that ended the Korean War. However, there have been indirect attacks, such as the sinking of a South Korean warship in March. According to CNN, the attack killed 46 sailors on the ship.
A day after Myung-bak’s national address on Monday, South Korea and the United States started joint military exercises. However, according to Washington, the drills were planned before North Korea’s attack.
The United States is “firmly committed,” to South Korea’s defence against North Korea, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told the BBC.
South Korean veterans held a protest in the nation’s capital, Seoul, because they believed the government was not doing enough in response to the North’s attack, reported CNN.
The tension with North Korea has risen to the point where the South Korean Defence Ministry has asked journalists to evacuate Yeonpyeong, reported CBC.
This attack is one of the worst in the area since the Korean War, analysts told BBC News.