Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea Opens Fire On South Korea

So what does this mean for the USA? Time will only tell. We are shown to protect and help South Korea in any event, and the North looks like their getting cocky again especially since the reports of a new enrichment facility.

Reuters: North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing two soldiers, in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953.

The barrage -- the South fired back and sent a fighter jet to the area -- was close to a disputed maritime border on the west of the divided peninsula and the scene of deadly clashes in the past. South Korea was conducting military drills in the area at the time but said it had not been firing at the North.

The attack came as the reclusive North, and its ally China, presses regional powers to return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program and revelations at the weekend Pyongyang is fast developing another source of material to make atomic bombs.

It also follows moves by leader Kim Jong-il to make his youngest, but unproven, son his heir apparent, leading some analysts to question whether the bombardment might in part have been an attempt to burnish the ruling family's image with the military.

"Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can't see very well because of plumes of smoke," a witness on the island told YTN Television before the shelling, which lasted about an hour, ended.

YTN said at least 200 North Korean shells hit Yeonpyeong, which lies off the west coast of the divided peninsula near a disputed maritime border. Most landed on a military base there.

Photographs from Yeongyeong island, just 120 km (75 miles) west of Seoul, showed columns of smoke rising from buildings. Two soldiers were killed in the attack, 17 wounded. Three civilians were also hurt.

News of the attack rattled global markets, already unsettled by Ireland's debt woes and a shift to less risky assets.

Experts say North Korea's Kim has for decades played a carefully calibrated game of provocation to squeeze concessions from the international community and impress his own military. The risk is that the leadership transition has upset this balance and that events spin out of control.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has pursued a hard line with the North since taking office nearly three years ago, said a response had to be firm following the attack.

But he made no suggestion the South would retaliate further, suggesting Seoul was taking a measured response to prevent things getting out of hand.

The North has a huge array of artillery pointed at Seoul that could decimate an urban area home to around 25 million people and cause major damage to its trillion dollar economy.

The two Koreas are still technically at war -- the Korean War ended only with a truce -- and tension rose sharply early this year after Seoul accused the North of torpedoing one of its navy vessels, killing 46 sailors.

North Korea said its wealthy neighbor started the fight.


Read more and see the video on Reuters

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