INCHEON, South Korea – North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday after the North shelled an island near their disputed sea border , killing at least two South Korean marines, setting dozens of buildings ablaze and sending civilians fleeing for shelter. (Yahoo News).
It is unlcear if this is a prelude to increased hostilities between the two nations or merely a reaction from the North Korean Communist government against the military maneuvers of the South. The South Korean military drills had included lobbing shells into the waters near the disputed border. When warnings from the North were ignored, Pyongyang ordered the shelling of the small island of Yeonpyeong.
Two South Korean marines were killed and several injured. In response, South Korea fired up to 80 rounds of K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers and scrambled fighter jets. Officials in Seoul say casualties in the North may have been high in the hour long skirmish.
The exchange threatens to reopen a war that never officially ended. The 1953 armistice was merely a cease fire and the two nations have technically been at war for the past 57 years. The United States has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea and Washington quickly condemned the attack, calling on North Korea to halt its aggressive action. China, an ally of North Korea and a nation with close economic ties to South Korea, called for calm and “to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said (Yahoo News).
Although tension is normally high between the two nations this a exchange may be a precursor to all out war. Kim John Il, North Korean dictator, is said to be in poor health and it may be he is seeking a confrontation in order to end his reign with a bang. His son Kim Jong Un is slated to assume dictatorial power at his father’s death or resignation.
HYUNG-JIN KIM and KWANG-TAE KIM, Associated Press , Yahoo News
Jonathan Tirone ,Bloomburg
Mark Willacy , ABCnetLateline