Tuesday, November 23, 2010
North Korea Attacks South Korean Island of Yeonpyeong Today
South Korea returned artillery fire and scrambled jets to protect the area. Sources say that approximately 200 shells were fired between the two sides until approximately 3:30 PM local time. In addition to the people killed or injured, several houses and buildings were destroyed as columns of black smoke were reported rising from the island which has a population of 1,200 to 1,300 people.
Latest reports said that two South Korean marines were killed and twenty other people, both civilian and military, were injured in the attack. There was understandably no report on casualties inflicted on North Korea by South Korea's retaliatory barrage.
This is the second major incident and act of war perpetrated by Kim Jong Il and North Korea upon the South Koreans this year. Earlier on March 26th, a South Korean naval vessel was sunk by what is assumed to have been a torpedo from a North Korean submarine. Many South Korean sailors died in the unanswered attack. North Korea, characteristically, denied having done so.
The White House issued a statement on today's attack through Press Secretary Gibbs saying, "The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement." Further, Gibbs continued, "The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability."
Currently there are approximately 30,000 United States troops stationed in South Korea to protect the good people there and maintain security along the border with North Korea that had been established in the armistice during the cease fire at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Earlier this month, President Obama stated in a speech given to American troops stationed there that, "Pyongyang should not be mistaken: The United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver."
So as the escalation of tensions in the region increase due to the unpredictable dictator Kim Jong Il, who recently announced that his son Kim Jong Un would be his heir to the leadership of North Korea, the world watches as North Korea now has committed inarguably at least two acts of war against its southern neighbor just this year. Further, Kim Jong Il has stated that North Korea now has a new uranium enrichment facility, presumably to create more fuel for nuclear weapons.
The situation here is indeed delicate, but these unprovoked attacks warrant a strong and unambiguous response from South Korea, the United States, and the world. Placating or de-escalating the situation through concessions and/or appeasement of this rogue regime will ultimately only invite more of the same behaviour in the long run.
Already, Japan is on high alert in the region and fears of this situation spreading out of control are not unreasonable. China, which is pretty much the main benefactor of North Korea and by far the most important nation responsible for what commerce and goods that the isolationist regime has, must condemn these actions in clear and absolute terms. The United States must use all influence to ensure that China does so, otherwise sooner or later the stakes will be too high and South Korea and 30,000 American service members will be in extreme jeopardy.