Artillery Barrages between Koreas

According to media from South Korea, North Korea fired artillery onto Yeonpyeong Island, which locates in the disputed area between the North Limit Line by South Korea and US and North Korean Military Demarcation Line on West Sea or Yellow Sea on Nov. 23rd1. It is believed that the Hoguk Exercise (호국훈련, National Protection Exercise) in the disputed areas triggered the incident2. Before the military drill, DPRK has condemned the annual exercise and warned they would fire shots2. Since the South explained the exercise is a routine one, a military activity in disputed areas should be controversial. It is reported that South Korea lost 4 (including 2 civilians) and injured 19 (including 3 civilians)3. The casualties and losses from North Korea are unknown till now.

Fig. 1 Disputed Maritime Demarcation Line between Koreas1

Fig. 2 People watch as plumes of smoke rise up from buildings on South Korea’s Yeonpueong island after North Korea fired hundreds of artillery rounds4

Fig. 3 CCTV captures the moment a shell lands on the island4

Fig. 4 A South Korean marine walks through destroyed houses on Yeonpyeong (Photograph: Lee Jin-Man/AP)5

Before the current president of South Korea took the power, the relationship between Koreas was smooth and stable. As we know, North Korea is developing its nuclear power, and the explosion could be regarded as one from atomic bomb. Just before the artillery barrages, a report by Dr. Siegfried S. Hecker stated that North Korea has a modern, clean centrifuge plant of more than 1000 centrifuges all neatly aligned at the country’s Yongbyon nuclear complex and could make two nuclear bombs per year6. One more fact that we could not ignore is that the low living standard in Korea. Thus, we can concluded that North Korea develops mass destruction weapons without considering the starving people. Hold on, please. Here is a question. Why Kim spent so much on the weapon? Killing Chinese? No, I do not think so. Killing Korean? Maybe. Japanese? Possible. American? How? If there was no troops in South Korea, I believe it is hardly for North Korea to attack Washington. Frequent military exercise near or in the Korean Peninsula made the area very sensitive. During the Korean war in the mid 20th century, the threatens of atomic bombs from US on China and Korea were the motivations to develop the nuclear weapons for their own. After China successfully tested its first atomic bomb in 1964, the Communist government claimed that China undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances7. North Korea needs a secure environment to develop its economy, while the aggressive President Lee Myungbak and the US troops in South Korea made the wish less possible. Now US and other countries press China to rein in North Korea to prevent further provocative incidents such as the deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island close to the border8. On the other hand, US deployed the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and four other US Navy (USN) warships to the West Sea (Yellow Sea)9 and began a joint military exercise with South Korea within a broad range which covers 34 degrees 30 minutes north latitude to 36 degrees to 125 degrees east longitude 124 degrees 42 minutes announced by South Korea’s National Oceanographic Research Institute on Nov. 2710. The location of the joint exercise is close to China and North Korea, since it is sort of far from the disputed area10. North Korea has condemned the 4-day war games bring the divided peninsula “closer to the brink of war”11. China started a series of diplomatic activities to ease the tensions, such sending senior officials to Koreas11, exchanging ideas with related countries12, and calling for emergency 6-way talk13. Recently, Wikileaks released US diplomatic cable including the attitude of China on Koreas14. The joint military exercise is to make the situation more complex and worse. President Lee Myung-bak is very confident about the military forces of South Korea, but if North Korea showers Seoul with artillery rounds and rockets, there are predictions that half of the capital will be destroyed in just a day15. It seems that what Lee has done at the risk of millions of South Korean’s lives. The unification of Koreas should be a long term process provided that North Korea could develop its economy and democracy under a stable environment. Otherwise, it is a disaster for all the people in Northeast Asia, especially for China and Koreas. US government and President Lee Myung-bak should abandon the strong and unrealistic policy to North Korea, and drag the Korea Peninsula back onto the right track to peace and denuclearization.


  1. Dispatch: North Korea Shells a South Korean Island.
  2. N.Korea fires artillery shells toward Yeonpyeong Island, killing two marines.
  3. Bombardment of Yeonpyeong.
  4. Korea on the brink: South warns of retaliation after North’s shellfire strike kills two marines.
  5. South Korea cancels Yeonpyeong island drills.
  6. North Korea could make two nuclear bombs per year.
  7. China’s National Statement on Security Assurance.
  8. US to press China to rein in North Korea after attack.
  9. US sends aircraft carrier to Yellow Sea following North Korean attacks.
  10. U.S. military exercises in South Korea Yellow Sea in Shandong sailing 170 kilometers away from the warning is announced.
  11. US-South Korea Joint Naval Show Sparks High Voltage Tension.
  12. Peace & the Koreas.
  13. China Calls For Six-Party Talk With N. Korea.
  14. China frustrated with North Korea: WikiLeaks.
  15. Gov’t Mulls Turning Baeknyeong into Forward Deployment Base.

5 Responses to Artillery Barrages between Koreas

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