North Korea threatened to "blow up" South Korean warships yesterday in retaliation for an earlier event, and Thursday brought the North closer to seeing that threat through when the two Koreas exchanged fire in the Yellow Sea, reports the Yonhap News Agency.
According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korean artillery shells splashed down near a South Korean ship that was patrolling its side of the de facto maritime border. A South Korean navy corvette lobbed five shells back into the North Korean side in response.
The exchange reportedly took place around 6 pm local time. The North Korean shells are believed to have been fired from shore via North Korea's coastal artillery batteries and found impact in the seas 14 kilometers south of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, according to officials.
Residents of the island were ordered to evacuate into shelters, and fishing boats in the area were commanded back to port.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Kang Myeong-sung, a resident of Yeonpyeong island, said in a phone interview that "hundreds of residents were in underground shelters after loudspeakers ordered them there." He said the sound of artillery fire at first had many people uneasy but they stopped worrying over time.
The island of Yeonpyeong suffered a North Korean shelling in November 2010 that claimed four lives. Underlined by this dark event, the area around the island is particularly volatile because both North and South Korea lay claim with boundary lines that are murky at best. Both nations also regularly practice military actions in the ill-defined waters where, not surprisingly, there have been three bloody naval battles between the two since 1999.
Leading up to this latest incident, to say North Korea was being provocative would be a severe understatement. While conducting a series of missile tests and firing off artillery, North Korea has also been firing off racist and sexist remarks at US and South Korean leaders.
Along with the sexist and racist rants, North Korea also accused the South's navy of "firing at random" on North Korean warships, leading to their "blow up" (the South's ships) threat:
"From this very moment, all warships of the south Korean puppet navy, big and small, which recklessly maneuver in the sensitive waters of the southwestern front, hot spots, will become without exception targets of the direct sighting firing by all strike means," North Korea's military bellowed on their state-run Korean Central News."The South Korean military is closely watching the North Korean military and preparing against additional provocations," said South Korea's Joint Chiefs. They're also trying to ascertain North Korea's motivation for firing.
Whatever their motivation, North Korea further stated that South Korean naval ships are now "targets of physical strikes which should be blown up without fail."
Additional uplifting news regarding the Korean Peninsula? According to Chinatopix, North Korea may now have nuke-tipped missiles!
Follow the Inquisitr as the ongoing sketchy situation continues to unfold between South and North Korea.