In 60 years, North’s provocations have evolved

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In 60 years, North’s provocations have evolved

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement. Over six decades, both sides have violated the agreement.

But North Korea is by far the biggest violator. According to U.S. and South Korean military data, North Korea violated the truce 420,000 times by the mid-1990s.

According to statistics from the South Korean government, the number of soldiers, policemen and civilians killed by Pyongyang in violations of the armistice is at least 310. The number of people it has abducted in South Korea and other foreign countries is estimated to be 3,811.

In the 1960s and ’70s, North Korea sent many agents to the South. Its target was then-President Park Chung Hee. In 1968, a 31-man team of assassins nearly reached the Blue House. In 1970, another infiltrator tried planting a bomb at the National Cemetery to kill him, and in 1974 an assassin killed the first lady, Yuk Young-soo, while trying to kill Park.

In the 1980s, the attacks evolved into massive terrorist plots. In 1983, North Korean terrorists attempted to murder President Chun Doo Hwan during an official visit to Yangon, the capital of Burma. Chun was late for a function and a bomb killed 17 others, including most of his cabinet. In 1987, Korean Air Flight 858 exploded in midair after a bomb was planted by North Korean agents, killing 115 passengers and crew.

In the 1990s, while accelerating its efforts to make nuclear weapons, North Korea started to use submarines for maneuvers against the South. In 1996, a North Korean submarine arrived near Gangneung, an eastern coastal city of South Korea, in order to spy on naval installations in the regions. It ran aground, and the crew tried to flee. Twenty-four of them ended up dead, one was captured and one fled.

In 1998, North Korean infiltrators attempted to land in the Gangneung region again, but their sub got caught in South Korean fishing lines. The nine crew members killed themselves to avoid being captured.

In 1999, the first official battle between the two Koreas since the war took place near the frontline island of Yeonpyeong. North Korean ships entered southern waters and a nine-day standoff ensued. After a firefight, a North Korean torpedo boat was sunk and five ships were damaged. The North crossed the line again in 2002, when the South was participating the Korea-Japan World Cup, and in the second skirmish of Yeonpyeong, six South Korean sailors died and an unknown number of North Koreans.

North Korea ratcheted up tensions by carrying out its first nuclear weapons test in 2006 and its second in 2009. Right after the second test, a North Korean warship crossed the tense Northern Limit Line, the de facto border, causing another skirmish with the South Korean Navy. At the time, the North allegedly lost eight sailors.

Since 2010, when Kim Jong-un became heir-apparent, the attacks continued. In March 2010, the Cheonan warship was torpedoed by the North, killing 46 South Korean sailors. (Pyongyang denies the charge.) In November 2010, artillery shelling of Yeonpyeong killed two marines and two civilians, the first attack on Korean soil since the war ended in 1953.



By Jeong Won-yeob [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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