Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Last Updated: 18 Jun 10:57 AM IST
22 November 2012
SEOUL, 22 NOV: North Korea has threatened to repeat its 2010 artillery attack on a border island, as South Korea prepares to mark tomorrow the second anniversary of the shelling that left four dead.
The South plans to hold several commemorative events over the next few days on Yeonpyeong island near the disputed Yellow Sea border and will conduct a military drill in the area tomorrow.
North Korea heaped scorn on the memorial activities, with the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) today quoting a military spokesman who warned of another attack on the island.
“The commemoration ~ on Yeonpyeong Island will lead to the second Yeonpyeong Island disaster,” the spokesman said.
The 23 November, 2010 shelling of the island left two South Korean marines as well as two civilians dead in one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North said the attack was in response to a live-fire drill by the South, which, it claimed, had resulted in shells falling on its side of the sea border.
South Korean troops responded with cannon fire and the government met in an underground war room, fuelling fears that the situation could escalate into a full-scale conflict.
The de facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas ~ the Northern Limit Line ~ is not recognised by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by the US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North Korean spokesman said the South's plans to commemorate the anniversary of the shelling was a “ridiculous farce” that invited derision and censure.
The only regret on the North's side, he said, was that the military had not seized the opportunity two years ago “to send the whole of Yeonpyeong Island to the bottom of the sea.
Since the Yeonpyeong shelling, South Korea has upgraded its defences on frontline islands in the area.
Yeonpyeong's 1,200 residents, who live just 1.5 kilometres (one mile) from the disputed border, are now outnumbered by the marine soldiers posted there.
Last month, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak paid a surprise visit to the island and spoke to the troops about the need to defend the maritime border “to the last man.”
There are widespread concerns in Seoul that North Korea will seek to provoke a confrontation ahead of the South's presidential election on 19 December.