News / Asia

Concern in Asia After North Korean Attack

In this image take from TV footage, smoke rises from South Korea's Yeonpyeong island near the border against North Korea, 23 Nov 2010
In this image take from TV footage, smoke rises from South Korea's Yeonpyeong island near the border against North Korea, 23 Nov 2010
Daniel Schearf

Asian nations have called for calm after North Korea fired artillery shells on a South Korean island, causing the death of at least two marines and military retaliation from Seoul.  Regional political analysts say the attack could be a strategic move by Pyongyang or possibly a sign of internal political wrangling. 

North Korea's attack Tuesday and South Korea's retaliation raised concerns in Asia of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang fired scores of artillery shells onto the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, causing several casualties and setting fire to buildings.

South Korea's military returned fire and Seoul vowed a stronger response to any further provocation.

Pyongyang claims South Korea fired first.

Australia called the North Korean attack a grave provocation.

North Korea's main ally, China, issued a statement that did not assign blame but expressed concern and called for talks.  Russia issued a similar statement.

Carl Thayer, a regional security specialist at the Australian Defense Force Academy, says Pyongyang often lashes out to increase its leverage in negotiations.

"When they feel themselves cornered, when they want to gain a concession, when they want to push back other countries that will now then hunker down and not condemn North Korea for fear of seeing the situation escalate," said Thayer.  "It's a kind of spoiling role and a kind of brinkmanship to try to manipulate a political process in North Korea's favor that they see as going against them."

Thayer says the North Korean attack could also be a response to South Korean military exercises near a disputed maritime border.

It came just days after North Korea unveiled a hidden uranium enrichment program that nuclear experts say appears quite advanced.

It also comes as a United States envoy is in China to discuss efforts to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear programs.

Regional political analysts say the attack could also be a sign of internal wrangling after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il put his son Kim Jong Un in place to succeed him.

After the exchange of artillery fire Tuesday, some Asian financial markets fell.

"If there's something going on in the North, for example a succession problem, in-fighting that is pitting one faction in the North against another, that is going to have a more serious reaction than the bombing," said Bob Broadfoot, the managing director of Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in Hong Kong. "But, I think the bombing will be absorbed by the markets in Asia quite quickly, in a matter of days."

Tensions have been high between North and South Korea since March when Seoul blamed Pyongyang for sinking one of its navy ships, killing more than 40 sailors.

North Korea denies it was responsible and rejects an international investigation that said one of its torpedoes hit the ship.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs