South Korea Evacuates Island After North Korean Shelling

North Korea

North Korea fired 200 artillery shells in the direction of South Korea this morning. The Shells landed close to the South Korean Yeonpyeong Island Group. The island’s residents were told to evacuate and the South Korean military fired live rounds in North Korea’s direction. The region is tense and even China has called for calm. Has Kim Jong Un crossed the line? Palki Sharma tells you.

The exchange on Friday led residents of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong – two remote South Korean islands – to evacuate to bomb shelters at the instruction of Seoul’s military before it fired live rounds towards the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL).

Pyongyang’s fire caused no damage, said Lee Sung-joon, a spokesperson for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding that all the shells landed on the northern side of the sea border.

“This is an act of provocation that escalates tension and threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won-sik said as he supervised the firing drills.

North Korea said its defensive coastal units fired 192 rounds as a “natural response” to military actions by South Korea’s “military gangsters” in recent days, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

It also threatened an “unprecedented strong response” if Seoul continued to make provocative moves.

The Ministry of National Defense in Seoul said the military was closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the United States.

Marine brigades based on the two islands fired into the sea to the south of the NLL, demonstrating “overwhelming operational response”, the ministry said. Its drills involved mechanised artillery and tanks.

An official on Yeonpyeong island, which sits just south of the NLL, confirmed that residents were told to move into bomb shelters at the request of the military. Residents of Baengnyeong island, located west of Yeonpyeong and near the sea border, were also directed to evacuate, as confirmed by a village official.

North Korea said its drills had no impact on the islands, calling Seoul’s claims “an attempt to mislead public opinion”, according to KCNA.

Since the 1990s, Pyongyang has disputed the NLL – drawn up at the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War – arguing it should lie far to the south.

In 2010, North Korean artillery targeted Yeonpyeong, resulting in casualties, including civilians. Pyongyang asserted it was provoked by Seoul’s live-fire drills that dropped shells into its territorial waters.

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