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