News / Asia

    Frontier Island Residents Fear Another N. Korean Attack

     Kim Yoo-sung, 84, at the gate of his home that was severely damaged by the North Korean artillery attack. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    Kim Yoo-sung, 84, at the gate of his home that was severely damaged by the North Korean artillery attack. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — It has been 19 months since North Korea shelled a frontier island, killing four South Koreans. Residents say they are concerned they could soon face another artillery attack.

    Rhetoric from North Korea's new, young leader has many people on Yeonpyeong Island more nervous than usual.

    Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un visited the North Korean artillery unit responsible for shelling Yeonpyeong less than two years ago. He praised them as "heroic defenders" and told them not to miss another "golden chance" to retaliate if a single shell again falls in the nearby waters.

    • Community center president Kang Myung-sung hopes to obtain more central government support to turn the damaged structures into a tourism site. (Photo: VOA/Steve Herman)
    • Kim Yoo-sung, 84, at the gate of his home that was severely damaged by the North Korean artillery attack. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • Several buildings damaged by the Nov. 23, 2010 are being left in that condition. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A military bunker damaged by the Nov. 23, 2010 shelling. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A preserved slab from a destroyed warehouse showing the damage close-up from the impact of an artillery shell that traveled 12 km. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A stack of damaged plates still sits on a pillar in one of the buildings shelled by North Korea. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A plant grows inside a hole in a coastal wall made by a North Korean artillery shell. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A South Korean army CH-47 Chinook helicopter after landing at military base on Yeonpyeong island. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • A truck loaded with South Korean marines on Yeonpyeong. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • South Korean marines posted on Yeonpyeong pose for a group photograph. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • An observation point facing North Korea, 12 km. away, which can be seen on clear days. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)
    • Artists drawing of a museum under construction on Yeonpyeong dedicated to the Nov. 23, 2010 artillery attack. (Photo: VOA / Steve Herman)

    Anxiety

    Kim Yoo-sung, 84, a native of the island just 12 kilometers from the North Korean coast, is wondering if he will find himself being attacked by the enemy for the third time in his life.

    He was wounded during his navy service in the Korean War of the early 1950s, and in 2010 he found himself again under attack from the North Koreans when the shelling destroyed much of his house.

    Kim says concern about another attack is constantly on the minds of everyone on the island.  People here do not sleep well, he says. Every noise in the night has them frightened that they are being shelled again.

    Kim expressed his worries in front of his house, where rebuilding is nearly complete.

    Nearby, other destroyed homes are being left as they are. They have turned into a bit of a tourist attraction, and the locals do not mind that at all.

    Reminders

    Community Center President Kang Myung-sung is optimistic the frames and rubble of several adjacent buildings can serve as a reminder for future generations what happened on this seven-square-kilometer island in November, 2010.

    Kang says just as in Hiroshima, Japan, where they have kept several damaged buildings from the first atomic bombing, the islanders want people to come here and see the results of the artillery attack.  But he laments there has not been much support from the central government for the idea to surround the destruction with memorial gardens, another idea the local people have derived from Hiroshima.

    North Korea says it was provoked on November 23, 2010 by a South Korean military exercise that lobbed shells into disputed waters.

    Annual joint drills on the peninsula between U.S. and South Korean militaries are currently underway.

    North Korean leader Kim has called the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise a grave provocation that risks triggering an all-out war and his troops are waiting for a final order to charge for a life-and-death battle against the enemies.

    North Korean state media said the order has already been signed and if delivered to the troops Kim has personally told them to turn the west sea (Yellow Sea) into a graveyard of the invaders.

    While such belligerent rhetoric is common from Pyongyang, some analysts say the young new leader is likely to invoke a clash to burnish his credentials as North Korea's untested commander-in-chief.

    Future prospects

    Speaking to correspondents Tuesday at the National Intelligence Service in Seoul, security researcher Ko Young Hwan, a former North Korean diplomat who defected, predicted Pyongyang will conduct a military strike, such as the shelling of another submarine or attempt to land on one of the South Korean-held frontier islands.

    Tensions between the two Koreas soared to their highest level in decades in 2010. The South blamed the North for torpedoing and sinking one of its coastal warships in March of that year.

    Eight months later it bombarded Yeonpyeong island for two hours, killing four people and wounding 18 others.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 29, 2012 2:43 PM
    A one time president of the United States once said, "If you want peace prepare for war". This is what North Korean is doing, but it seems that posture fails them. However, North Korea has been given disproportionate amount of respect for its stupidity. In fact it has taken madness far beyond acceptable limits. What remains now is to respond to that quest. A country of about 17m people cannot hold the whole world to ransom because it boasts of a large army. It has a nuclear armory, so what? Can't it be taken out? Is there no counter military measure that can deny it the use of the nuke in the event of a war? What constitutes a super power? if no one is there to quieten N. Korea so that the world can have peace, then let's crown it with that honor. Negotiations with N. Korea have gone on for too long and have achieved nothing, and it has been the backbone of Tehran to dare the civilized world with threat of nuclear program. Something drastic should be done to quieten NK immediately. It's time to prepare for war with North Korea and give it what it wants, either way, otherwise the threat will remain. Man dies but once, and North Korea cannot kill more they it can. What that country needs is re-engineering and redirecting, and only a defeat at war will liberate the people entrapped in that encampment of evil.
    In Response

    by: words are like dust from: US
    August 29, 2012 9:31 PM
    If there is in fact another war then are you willing to risk your life fighting against the North Korean regime, you talk the talk do you walk the walk?
    Only those who have taste war and seen death understand the nature and of man.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.