News / Asia

US, S. Korea Reply to Pyongyang Attack with New Military Exercises

South Korean firefighters inspect destroyed houses on Yeonpyeong island, South Korea, 24 Nov 2010
South Korean firefighters inspect destroyed houses on Yeonpyeong island, South Korea, 24 Nov 2010

After an exchange of artillery fire between the two Koreas, Seoul and Washington have announced a new joint military drill. South Korea also warns North Korea that any further aggression will bring enormous retaliation. The bodies of two men were found Wednesday on Yeonpyeong island, bringing the death toll to four from Tuesday's attack.

Just after a phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-back, the two countries announced a joint military exercise.

It is the first significant response to Tuesday's fatal shelling of a South Korean island.

U.S. Forces spokesman David Oten, in Seoul, says the four-day drill will begin Sunday and include the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington in the Yellow Sea.

"This exercise is defensive in nature. While planned well before yesterday's unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence. It is also designed to improve our military interoperability," he said.

Two South Korean marines and at least two residents of Yeonpyeong island died in the shelling.

The top U.S. commander in South Korea on Wednesday called on Pyongyang to halt its attacks, saying North Korea threatens peace and stability on the peninsula.

General Walter Sharp also heads the United Nations Command here. In that role he has ordered the U.N. command to investigate North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong island.

Tuesday's incident caused an uproar here. The Dong-A Ilbo paper says North Korea, as a mad dog, needs to be hit with a club. The Chosun Ilbo says North Korea has put a dagger to South Korea's throat and that calls for an immediate, stern and precise retaliation. The JoongAng newspaper terms the attack a national crisis.

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young faced withering criticism from lawmakers Wednesday.

During a parliamentary hearing, lawmaker Song Young-Sun, with the governing Grand National Party, chastised Kim for the response.

She questions why is the shelling merely being termed a provocation? She says bombing civilians is combat. If South Korean forces cannot anticipate and accurately keep track of how many shells fell then the whole military is useless, she complains.

The defense minister, who could barely get a sentence in, was peppered with angry questions from lawmakers about why it took 13 minutes to begin the counter-strike after North Korea began firing artillery shells at the island.

The artillery exchange on the disputed western frontier is one of the worst escalations since the 1953 armistice that halted the three-year Korean War.

There has never been a peace treaty and tension has peaked and ebbed in subsequent years.

Relations turned particularly tense earlier this year when a South Korean warship exploded and sank in the Yellow Sea. An international investigation concluded the Cheonan was hit by a North Korean torpedo. But Pyongyang says it was not responsible.

The former director of the two main U.S. intelligence agencies (the CIA and NSA), Michael Hayden, says the Cheonan sinking and the artillery firing may be related to the power succession in Pyongyang. Hayden says heir apparent Kim Jong Un may be trying to demonstrate power and compare himself to his grandfather, North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sun.

"Unless someone brings pressure to bear on them, and I frankly, I think, that someone has to be China, yes, I think there will be more provocations," he sid.

Hayden says Pyongyang's behavior might also be intended to get the United States and other nations to return to stalled negotiations about Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

North Korea blames the South for initiating Tuesday's hostilities - saying an annual South Korean live fire training exercise on the island was a provocative preparation for war.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs