중앙데일리

2002 Yeonpyeong battle remembered at memorial

June 30,2009
South Korean crew members of a Navy vessel who fought against its Northern counterparts in a 2002 battle on the western sea border near Yeonpyeong Island pay tribute to the killed sailors yesterday during the anniversary of the battle at the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi. [NEWSIS]

South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo urged the nation to overcome the current security threat yesterday at an event commemorating the seventh anniversary of the 2002 Yeonpyeong Naval Battle.

The ceremony, which took place at the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, was attended by some 1,500 people, including soldiers who were wounded during the clash, bereaved families, citizens and students.

It is the second annual event organized by the South Korean government since the memorial was upgraded to a national event last year.

“The heroes who fought to protect South Korean waters to the last will always be remembered in our hearts,” said Han after he mentioned the names of all six South Korean sailors, including Lieutenant Commander Yoon Young-ha, who were killed in action.

“The Lee Myung-bak administration changed the official name of the 2002 military clash on the west coast to ‘The Second Yeonpyeong Naval Battle’ and decided to consider the battle as a victory for the South Korean Navy,” Han said.

He also emphasized that the most important task remaining was to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

When the ceremony was over, participants visited Chamsuri-357, the patrol boat that was attacked by a North Korean vessel, and a KDX-1 class destroyer Eulji Mundeok.

The confrontation occurred on June 29, 2002, when two North Korean Navy vessels crossed the Northern Limit Line, the western sea border, at 10 a.m. The clash lasted about 25 minutes. Six South Korean sailors died and 18 were wounded. The South Korean warship sank after the battle, but it was later salvaged.

Meanwhile, Kwon Young-dal, a retired major general who was in charge of military intelligence for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, said in a phone interview with Yonhap yesterday that the Navy confirmed the number of North Koreans killed and wounded as 13 and 25, respectively.

“Some people are looking at the 2002 confrontation as South Korea’s defeat since some of our crew members were either killed or injured and the vessel sank,” Kwon said. “The result of the battle was not properly evaluated even though South Korean soldiers fought well against North Korea’s surprise attack.”

The first Yeonpyeong Naval Battle occurred on June 15, 1999, when the North Korean Navy fired shots toward the South Korean side at the Northern Limit Line.

The South overcame the North in just 14 minutes, killing at least 30 North Korean soldiers, injuring about 70 others and destroying 10 vessels.

Nine South Koreans were wounded, but there were no deaths.


By Lee Young-jong, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]






dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장