Nation stays at the ready 3 years after Cheonan

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Nation stays at the ready 3 years after Cheonan

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Patrol Combat Corvette Jinhae drops an antisubmarine bomb during its maritime exercise conducted by the South Korean Navy’s second fleet in the Yellow Sea yesterday, one day ahead of the third anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan warship. [Joint Press Corps]

Commemorating the third anniversary of the Cheonan warship’s sinking today, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin warned the South Korean military would “thoroughly retaliate” if the North attempts a provocation.

“If North Korea provokes, we should thoroughly retaliate against them so that they never make an additional provocation,” Kim said during his visit to the 6th Brigade of the South Korean Navy yesterday, a day before the anniversary of North Korea’s torpedoing of the naval ship Cheonan on March 26, 2010.

“We should be thoroughly prepared to prevent any sudden attack like the Cheonan incident from happening again,” Kim told soldiers. “If the enemy provokes, you need to act first and report later. Retaliate against the sources of the provocation and strike the supporting forces as well as those who ordered the provocation.”

Kim also mentioned the frequent visits by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to his front-line units are “an attempt to raise the warlike atmosphere” and could also be “a strategy to cause internal friction in the South.” Nevertheless, he once again called on the troops to remain vigilant.

The South Korean Navy conducted a large-scale maritime field maneuver in waters off the western port city of Incheon yesterday.

The four-day drills are in preparation for a possible underwater attack from North Korea.

Along with three patrol combat corvettes, five Patrol Killer Medium craft, and the so-called Patrol Killer Guided-Missile boats will take part in the exercises.

Out of some 530 provocations from North Korea, about 410 were maritime attacks, according to the South Korean military. The South Korean Navy also carried out a live-fire exercise against a warship, using 76-millimeter and 40-millimeter artillery and a K6 machine gun, which was crafted by donations from bereaved families of the dead soldiers from the Cheonan.

Soldiers paid tribute to the dead warriors yesterday. Choi Yoon-hee, chief of the naval operations, visited the Daejeon National Cemetery where the 46 soldiers are laid to rest.

“The enemy will certainly provoke via the sea,” he wrote in a visitor’s book. “Our military should strongly retaliate against them until they surrender. This is a rightful way to honor our dead warriors.”


By Kim Hee-jin, Jeong Won-yeob [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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