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S. Korea President Enraged by N. Korea Provocation - 2002-07-02

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung says he is enraged with North Korea for provoking a deadly naval battle Saturday. The incident left four South Korean soldiers dead and one missing and killed an estimated 30 North Koreans.

South Korea President Kim Dae-jung warned Tuesday that North Korea will suffer serious damage if it tries again to strike South Korea.

Returning from a trip to Japan, the South Korean leader issued a powerfully-worded statement.

Mr. Kim says that if North Korea attacks again, Seoul will respond even more aggressively.

He says he was enraged and wants an apology for the sea border intrusion that caused the deadly naval clash, which was the worst of its kind in three years.

The shooting incident occurred Saturday in the Yellow Sea, after North Korean ships crossed the disputed water boundary.

South Korea's military Tuesday adopted new rules of engagement that give the Navy more latitude in responding to North Korean threats or incursions.

The new rules cut the number of steps and warnings that South Korean navy ships are instructed to follow in repelling North Korean ships.

Since Saturday, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Dong-shin and the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Forces in that nation, General Leon LaPorte, agreed to increase military surveillance of North Korea.

The United States has 37,000 troops in South Korea to prevent an attack from the North. The two Koreas have been divided since 1953, when their war ended in an armed truce and no peace agreement.

Despite the tough rhetoric and promises of a firmer military posture, Mr. Kim also underscored his unwavering commitment to his Sunshine Policy of engaging the Communist North, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, is lashing out at the United States.

In comments published by the North's official KCNA news agency, the North Korean Foreign Ministry blames the United States for trying to drive a wedge between North and South Korea. The statement says that the U.S. military controls South Korean defense matters, and must have had prior knowledge about Saturday's deadly clash.

The State Department swiftly dismissed the claim, calling it false.