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Posted at 4:29 PM ET, 11/24/2010

Yeonpyeong Island: At the center of the North and South Korea clash

By Sam Sanders
In this undated photo released on Monday by Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, third right, and his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Eun, second left, inspect a fish farm during an inspection trip in Ryongyon, North Korea. (AP)

North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island Tuesday is having ramifications throughout the world. North Korea has announced that the two countries are "on the brink of war," CNN reports. The USS Washington, a naval carrier, is already headed to Korean waters. The world is waiting to see how China will react.

It's all fallout from the two-minute barrage on Yeonpyeong Island, which is actually a three-mile-long archipelago, or group of islands. They're small islands, with about 1,700 residents of mostly fishermen and a garrison of 1,000 South Korean sailors.

(Read more about the political fallout here.)

The islands are in the Yellow Sea, about 72 miles west of Seoul and seven miles off the North Korean mainland. But more importantly, they sit two miles from the "northern limit line," which can be thought of as a watery Korean demilitarized zone, and the two sides are often at odds over where the exact line falls.

Because it sits two miles from the disputed "northern limit line," the islands have been near violence between the North and South for more than half a century. Yeonpyeong was caught in the countries' crosshairs in 1999 and 2002. Thirty sailors were killed in the 1999 fight, and 17 died in 2002.

The residents have adapted to living under the tension of possible attack. Bomb shelters are scattered throughout the islands. Monthly air raid drills keep residents prepared for an attack at any moment and gas masks are kept in homes. The islands are constantly on high alert, but even so, two civilians were killed during Tuesday's artillery attack.

You can see photos of the attack here.

Destroyed houses are seen on Yeonpyeong island. (Dong-A Ilbo/AFP/Getty Images)

By Sam Sanders  | November 24, 2010; 4:29 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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This is a great article, I like that this topic is finally getting some coverage, will be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming weeks.

Frank Dappah

Posted by: yatalie | November 24, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Minneapolis Nov 24th, 2010 12:59 pm

"Does anyone remember the Bay of Tonkin incident? Who provoked whom when the incident was originally reported? And did we learn 25+ years later after loss of tens of thousands of American lives and millions of Vitenamese lives? And what about the recent Iraq War?

A South Korean friend told me that before the North Korean attack, South Korea has been conducting military exercises near NLL (Northern Limit Line) and shelling near the NLL to the "North Korean water" despite the repeated warnings from the North. He also told me that the current South Korean govervnment is very "conservative", like GOP in US. Could it be that South Korea/ and US try to "destablize" the North and create internal conflicts (as Cha in his piece was saying) during what South Korea/US perceive as a vulnerable period of the North during the leadership "transition". This may also explain why out of the blue the Norh invites three American scientists to show off its stockpile of the centrifuges.

It appeas that some people, including some folks at NYT, are more interested in drumming up the potential war instead of getting to the real truth behind it. Some may even be interested to see WIII break out, by putting pressure on Chin and dragging China into the war. as stated in another article of NYT " ,"
"The exercise will include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region, both to deter further attacks by the North and to signal to China that unless it reins in its unruly ally it will see an even larger American presence in the vicinity."

So if US is really interested in calming the dispute, why sending a US carrier to conduct further joint military exercise, risking further provoking the North? And what is this statement "to signal to China that unless it reins in its unruly ally it will see an even larger American presence in the vicinity" really about, if not to irk the Chinese military (and Chinese people)? We know that at the economic front, the NYT columist Paul Krugman has been busy setting up China as the evil empire and despicable villain columns after columns in the past year. Perhaps he understands fully well it was WII that fully pulled US out of the Great Depression, and this time around we need a similar war to simulate the economy. Call me a cynical!

Finally, granted the hermit nature of Norh Korea makes it hard, just like Saddam Hussein's regime makes it hard to find out the real truth about WMDs pre-Iraq war. However, just because North Korth is a despicable totalitarian government doesn't mean it will provoke a war when it has more to lose. Or perhpas it was Chinese who secretly got the North and South Koreas at war again so as to drag US and get its further into dept, thus the hands of the Chinese?"

Posted by: Airborne82 | November 24, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not impressed with these developments...

There have been numerous infiltrations between the two Koreas by both sides via the DMZ with attacks being made with carnage & mayhem occurring. While they may, in appearance, don't seem the same as the artillery barrage, they are just as serious! The current response being shown on our part is not warranted...

Especially in the light of the way South Korea treated Obama during his recent visit! It seems hypocritical of them to expect help from us when they rejected
our requests for some economic considerations. I don't care about our so-called "alliance" & I care even less about the "Reaganesque" characterization of N. Korea being part of the "Axis of Evil".

The "Cold War" is over(?)...We're trading with virtually all members of the former
members of the Soviet Bloc...Including N. Korea!

The reason they have their nuclear capability is that we sold them the reactors that could be used to make weapons-quality plutonium. That situation was a sore point with the Bush (Jr.) administration. Their credibility in that area is suspect...After all, the company which carried out the transaction had Don Rumsfeld on their board of directors! The
PRC vouched for N. Korea's responsible handling of reactor use (IE: civilian, not military use).

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! We should not get involved militarily.

What needs to be done is ensure that measures are taken to maintain the peace. The "ceasefire" situation that has existed since the 50's needs to be negotiated into a permanent peace. A diplomatic means should be used to facilitate the creation of a new Korea where the two nations are working together for their common good.

I realize a lot of Korean War veterans would disagree with my point of view...I understand why they would feel that way. However, the number of KIA's, MIA's & the personnel that were maimed mentally, physically & spiritually didn't seem to matter when we sponsored a peace treaty
between North & South Vietnam. Their loss didn't seem to matter when North Vietnam invaded & conquered South Vietnam in violation of the peace treaty. That loss particularly didn't seem to matter when we normalized relations with Vietnam & are now trade partners with Vietnam despite North Vietnam's treachery.

To go to War with North Korea because of its continuing "contention" with South Korea makes logic stare with its jaw dropped to the ground! I'm not disloyal to my comrades-in-arms!!! That distinction
belongs to a special group of people - let them accept that dubious distinction!!!!!

Posted by: theseeker1952 | November 24, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Those arguing whether or not U.S. should get militarily involved should know that we are already there. And unless we are willing to evacuate or abandon the thousands of American family members and civilians, including women and children, in Korea there is no question about it.

Posted by: gen_coz | November 25, 2010 3:44 AM | Report abuse

Pretty sure North Korea = China in the different names of one country, or a military branch & a lapdog.

Posted by: hsr06011 | November 28, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

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