North fires more shells into Yellow Sea for 2nd day

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North fires more shells into Yellow Sea for 2nd day

North Korea fired dozens of coastal artillery shells around 8:10 a.m. yesterday in the waters north of the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea near Yeonpyeong Island on the peninsula’s west coast, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The shells landed in the North’s own waters north of the NLL, the de facto inter-Korean maritime border.

Yesterday’s action took place following similar rounds of shooting on Wednesday in two areas that the North designated “no-sail” zones near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. It was the first time the North fired shells near the NLL.

The North had not declared areas near Yeonpyeong as no-sail zones.

“We have received reports from military bases in Yeonpyeong Island that they heard firing,” said Colonel Park Sung-woo, spokesman for the JCS.

“Reportedly, the North shot into its own territory,” he added. “We still cannot confirm exactly where the shells were fired and the type of shells. We are closely monitoring the situation.”

The South neither fired warning shots nor sent warning messages, Park said.

A day earlier, South Korean marines on Baengnyeong Island fired around 100 bullets as warning shots in the air toward the North soon after the North’s first firing at 9:05 a.m.

Yeonpyeong, located about 80 kilometers (49 miles) west of the northernmost end of South Korea’s mainland and 12 kilometers from the North, experienced two naval skirmishes between the two Koreas in 1999 and 2002.

Despite the North’s recent military actions, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said yesterday it would proceed with scheduled working-level discussions between the two Koreas concerning the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The complex is a joint business park in the North where many firms from the South have operations. The talks are scheduled for next Monday.

“We sent the list [of our representatives] to our counterparts in the North via the complex’s management committee in the morning,” said a senior official at the South’s Unification Ministry on condition of anonymity. “Three senior members of the South’s delegation, including Kim Young-tak [the senior ministry official charge of inter-Korean talks], are going to participate in the talks along with 14 additional members.”

In addition, Seoul is planning to confirm with the North today the ground route that the South’s delegation will take.

On Wednesday, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said that inter-Korean working-level talks associated with the complex would go forward. Hyun added that Seoul will make it a priority to secure stability on the peninsula.

Meanwhile, in the 24th round of the Security Policy Initiative held in the South’s Defense Ministry, military officials from South Korea and the United States exchanged ideas related to the recent North military actions and agreed to maintain a cooperative position to deal with any further provocations.

The two Koreas technically remain at war since a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.


By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

北, `포사격` 하면서 평화협정 거듭 요구



북한이 연이틀 서해 북방한계선(NLL) 북쪽 수역에 포사격을 퍼부으면서 언론매체를 통해서는 한반도 평화협정이 시급하다는 주장을 되풀이하고 있다.

북한의 이같은 이중적 태도는 '연례훈련'을 명분 삼은 이번 포사격이 한반도 평화협정의 필요성을 부각시켜 미국 등 관련국들의 관심을 유도하기 위한 것이라는 전문가들의 분석을 뒷받침한다.

북한 노동당 기관지 노동신문은 29일 '평화협정 체결 용단을 내려야 한다'는 제목의 논평에서 "평화협정 협상의 시급한 개최는 조선반도의 긴장한 정세의 요구로 보나, 조선전쟁 발발 60년이 되는 올해의 시기성으로 보나, 현 국제정세 발전의 흐름으로 보나 적절하고 합당하다"고 주장했다.

신문이 언급한 '한반도의 긴장한 정세'는 서해 포사격을 포함해 최근 남북간에 조성된 긴장관계를 포괄적으로 지칭한 것으로 보인다.


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