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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid