Monday, December 6, 2010
Text Fwd: [Gregory Elich] Spiralling out of Control - The Risk of a New Korean War [그레고리 일리치] 통제 힘들게 증가함: 새 한국 전쟁의 위험
Spiralling out of Control: The Risk of a New Korean War
by Gregory Elich
December 4, 2010
An artillery duel between North and South Korean forces on November 23 has set in motion a series of events which threaten to spiral out of control.
On November 22, South Korea began its annual military exercise, involving including 70,000 troops, dozens of South Korean and U.S. warships and some 500 aircraft. The following day, South Korean artillery stationed on Yeonpyeong Island began a live ammunition drill, firing shells into the surrounding sea.
The island is situated quite near to the North Korean mainland, and lies in disputed waters. At the end of the Korean War in 1953, U.S. General Mark Clark unilaterally established the western sea border to North Korea's disadvantage. Rather than in a perpendicular line, the Northern Limit Line was drawn to curve sharply upwards, handing over islands and a prime fishing area to the South that would otherwise have gone to North Korea. The North, having had no say in the delineation of its sea border, has never recognized the Northern Limit Line. (1)
South Korean troops have been based on the island since the end of the Korean War. There is also a small fishing village in close proximity to the military base; unavoidably so, given that the island is less than three square miles in size.
In response to the South Korean announcement of an impending artillery drill, North Korea telephoned the South Korean military on the morning of November 23, urging them to cancel plans to fire shells into what the North regarded as its territorial waters. The North warned that if the drill proceeded, they would respond with a "resolute physical counter-strike." (2)
Nevertheless, the artillery drill proceeded and four hours later, North Korean artillery fired on the island. In the first round, 150 shells were shot, of which 60 hit the island. Then 20 more shells were fired in a second round. In all, four people on the island were killed and 18 wounded. (3)
The South Korean military telegraphed the North, asking them to cease, but to no avail. Then their artillery returned fire at the North, firing 80 shells. One shell directly hit a North Korean military barracks. Although many of the shells appeared to have inflicted little damage, an official at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff noted, "Satellite images show our shells landed on a cluster of barracks in North Korea, so we presume there have been many casualties and considerable property damage." (4)