North Korean Attack on South Korea: 8 Provocations of the Past Decade

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North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong island Tuesday, killing two South Korean marines and injuring more than a dozen people. South Korea returned fire. Both sides claimed that the other fired first.While the South has engaged in past attacks - notably in November 2009, when it fired on a North Korean patrol boat, and in June 1999, when it sunk a North Korean vessel - history shows that Pyongyang is often the instigator. A 2007 report from the US Congressional Research Service documents dozens of provocations, ranging from low-level naval warfare to assassinations of South Korean cabinet officers.Here are seven examples of the North's military provocations over the past decade.

North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong island Tuesday, killing two South Korean marines and injuring more than a dozen people. South Korea returned fire. Both sides claimed that the other fired first.

While the South has engaged in past attacks - notably in November 2009, when it fired on a North Korean patrol boat, and in June 1999, when it sunk a North Korean vessel - history shows that Pyongyang is often the instigator. A 2007 report from the US Congressional Research Service documents dozens of provocations, ranging from low- level naval warfare to assassinations of South Korean cabinet officers.

Here are seven examples of the North's military provocations over the past decade.

#7 November 2001

On Nov. 27, 2001, North Korean soldiers opened fire across the demilitarized border zone at a South Korean guardpost. South Korean soldiers responded with fire, though none were killed from either side. Another exchange of fire would not be recorded until July 23, 2003.

Despite the Nov. 27 incident, two days later the United States reaffirmed it would provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea and desired to resume talks.

And even after President George W. Bush in January 2002 characterized North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of the so-called "axis of evil," Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated that Washington was willing to resume dialogue with the North at "any time, any place, or anywhere without any preconditions."

#6 June 2002

On June 29, 2002, two North Korean patrol ships crossed into the South Korean-controlled area of the Yellow Sea and opened fire on a South Korean patrol ship, sinking it and killing four civilians. Happening during the final matches of the 2002 World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Seoul and Tokyo, the incident dashed hopes that the soccer tournament might warm relations between neighbors.

The skirmish occurred just after Washington had signaled it was ready to visit Pyongyang and resume peace talks, leading some analysts to speculate the incident was a North Korean delay tactic, the Monitor then reported.

As with the most recent exchange of fire, both the North and South blamed the other for initiating the attack. The South demanded an apology, which a North Korean Navy spokesman called "the height of impudence.'' CNN estimated then that some 30 North Korean sailors were killed or injured in retaliatory fire.

"The military provocation of preemptive firing by a North Korean Navy patrol ship is a clear violation of the armistice and an act that raises tension on the Korean peninsula. We cannot keep silent," said South Korean President Kim Dae-jun, echoing remarks that would be repeated by other leaders after skirmishes with the reclusive North.

#5 February 2003

A series of North Korean moves in late February and early March of 2003 appeared to send a signal to the incoming South Korean president and test US resolve in the region.

On Feb. 24, 2003, North Korea fired a single missile into the sea between South Korea and Japan, a day before South Korea swore in President Roh Moo-hyun. "The move seemed carefully calibrated to draw attention without being highly provocative - a flashing signal rather than a red light," The New York Times then reported. …