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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid