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Nov 25th, 2010


North Korea: Peninsula Being Pushed to ‘Brink of War’

North lashes out against planned U.S.-South Korean military drills

Image: Houses destroyed by North Korean artillery shelling pictured on Yeonpyeong island
Houses destroyed by North Korean artillery shelling pictured on Yeonpyeong island Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. (Photo credit: Kyodo /Reuters)

By Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim

November 25, 2010

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — North Korea said Friday that planned U.S.-South Korean military drills are pushing the peninsula to the “brink of war” as a U.S. military commander headed to an island devastated by North Korean artillery to show solidarity with ally Seoul.

North Korea’s state news agency said drills this weekend involving South Korean forces and a U.S. nuclear powered supercarrier in waters south of a skirmish Tuesday between the rival Koreas are a reckless plan by “trigger-happy elements” and that the maneuvers target the North.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war,” the dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency said.

The comments came ahead of a planned visit Friday by Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. military commander in South Korea, to the island targeted by the North Korean attack. …

Marines with M-16 rifles patrolled a seawall, while others gazed toward North Korea from a guard post on a cliff. …

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday ordered reinforcements for about 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands, as well as top-level weaponry for the soldiers and upgraded rules of engagement that would create a new category of response when civilian areas are targeted.

He also sacked his defense minister amid intense criticism over lapses in the country’s response to the attack.

In scenes reminiscent of the Korean War 60 years ago, dazed residents of Yeonpyeong island this week have foraged through blackened rubble for pieces of their lives and lugged their possessions down eerily deserted streets strewn with bent metal.

“It was a sea of fire,” resident Lee In-ku said Thursday, recalling the flames that rolled through the streets of this island that is home to military bases as well as a fishing community famous for its catches of crab. The spit of land had only six pieces of artillery.

Interactive: North Korea attack

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Related report

South Korea orders more troops to front line
(AP and Reuters via MSNBC.com, Nov. 25, 2010)

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11/26/2010 Update

North Korean Artillery Drill Escalates Tension

‘Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served,’ Pyongyang warns

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young checks houses destroyed by North Korean artillery shelling on Yeonpyeong island (Photo: Seo Jae-hoon / Newsis via Reuters)
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young checks houses destroyed by North Korean artillery shelling on Yeonpyeong island. (Photo credit: Seo Jae-hoon / Newsis via Reuters)

The Associated Press, Reuters, and NBC News’ Richard Engel via MSNBC.com
November 26, 2010

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — Fresh artillery shots were heard Friday on the tense South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, three days after it was devastated by a North Korean attack and hours after Pyongyang warned that the peninsula was on the brink of war.

The blasts happened just after the top U.S. commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter Sharp, toured Yeonpyeong Island in a show of solidarity with Seoul and to survey damage from Tuesday’s hail of North Korean artillery fire that killed four people.

An official at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said several new rounds of artillery fire were heard Friday on Yeonpyeong, which is just 7 miles south of the North Korean mainland. …

Reuters reported that no shells landed in South Korea. Yonhap news agency said it appeared to be a North Korean drill. …

Earlier Friday, Gen. Sharp toured Yeonpyeong, dressed in a heavy camouflage jacket and army fatigues and wearing a black beret. He walked down a heavily damaged street strewn with debris from buildings. …

Sharp said that Tuesday’s attack was a clear violation of an armistice signed in 1953 at the end of the three-year Korean War. …

Full story

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11/27/2010 Update

Report: U.S., South Korea Launch War Games

Seoul demands vengeance over N. Korean attack; Pyongyang calls civilians ‘human shields’

Image: South Korean ships stage off of the coast of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island
South Korean ships stage off of the coast of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010 ahead of war games with U.S. forces. (David Guttenfelder / AP)


November 27, 2010

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — The United States and South Korea launched war games Sunday as South Koreans demanded vengeance over a deadly North Korean artillery bombardment that has raised fears of more clashes between the bitter rivals.

The drills began 6 a.m. local time (4 p.m. ET, Nov. 27) in the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean peninsula town of Taean, south of the site of Tuesday’s attack, according to Korean military officials quoted by Yonhap and Reuters news agencies. …

The USS George Washington, which carries 75 warplanes and has a crew of more than 6,000, will be accompanied by at least four other warships.

China has expressed displeasure with the exercises while North Korea has said the consequences could not be predicted. …

North Korea said civilians were used as a “human shield” around artillery positions and lashed out at what it called a “propaganda campaign” against Pyongyang.

It claimed the United States orchestrated last Tuesday’s clash so that it could stage joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea with the South that include a U.S. nuclear powered supercarrier — enraging the North and making neighboring China uneasy. …

New level of hostility

The North Korean attack on an area with a civilian population marked a new level of hostility along the rivals’ disputed sea border. Only eight months ago, according to the findings of a South Korean-led international investigation, a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean warship in waters farther west, killing 46 sailors.

The aggression could be linked to the North’s attempt to strengthen its government as it pursues a delicate transfer of power from leader Kim Jong Il to a young, unproven son. It also may reflect Pyongyang’s frustration that it has been unable to force a resumption of stalled international talks on receiving aid in return for nuclear disarmament.

The attack laid bare weaknesses 60 years after the Korean War in South Korea’s defenses against the North, which does not recognize the border drawn by the U.N. at the close of the conflict and which considers waters around Yeonpyeong as its territory. …

At a funeral Saturday near Seoul, South Korea’s marine commander, Maj. Gen. You Nak-jun, vowed a “thousand-fold” retaliation for the attack. Dignitaries and relatives laid white flowers at an altar for the two marines killed in the North’s attack. The mother of one of the victims fell forward in her chair in grief. …

‘Let’s go!’

Elsewhere in Seoul, about 70 former special forces troops protested what they called the government’s weak response and scuffled with riot police in front of the Defense Ministry, pummeling the riot troops’ helmets with wooden stakes and spraying fire extinguishers.

“Let’s go!” the activists shouted, as police, numbering several hundred, pushed back with shields. …

The North said that Sunday’s U.S.-South Korean war games showed that the United States was “the arch criminal who deliberately planned the incident and wire-pulled it behind the scene.”

North Korea on Saturday warned of retaliatory attacks creating a “sea of fire” if its territory is violated.

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11/28/2010 Update

Video

How will Obama approach Korean tension? (NBC “Today,” Nov. 28, 2010) – TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe speaks with David Gregory, moderator of “Meet the Press.” (03:10)

Video

U.S. war games meant as warning to North (NBC “Today,” Nov. 28, 2010) –NBC’s Richard Engel explains why joint military exercises in the waters just off the peninsula are raising tension across the region. (01:58)

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12/4/2010 Update

South Korea: We’ll Bomb the North If Provoked

Image: Kim Kwan-jin
Defense Minister nominee Kim Kwan-jin, speaking at the National Assembly in Seoul, said: “If there are further provocations, we will definitely use aircraft to bomb North Korea.” (Photo credit: Yonhap News Agency / EPA)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
December 3, 2010

SEOUL — South Korea said Friday it would bomb North Korea if it tries a repeat of last week’s attack, with the United States warning of an “immediate threat” from Pyongyang.

Kim Kwan-jin, a retired general, was speaking at a parliamentary meeting confirming him as new defense minister, a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea threatened the region and the world. …

Kim said it will be difficult for North Korea to conduct a full-scale war because of its weak economy and worries over the success of a plan to transfer power from leader Kim Jong Il to his young, untested son, Kim Jong Un.

The tough words came as president Lee Myung-bak’s government suffered intense criticism that the response to the North’s Nov. 23 shelling was weak, and over a stunning revelation that the South’s spy chief dismissed information in August indicating North Korea might attack the front-line island.

Despite the bold declarations, questions have been raised about Lee’s readiness — and even willingness — to stand up to the North.

The president has been criticized for leading a military whose response to the attack was seen as too slow and too weak. The North fired 170 rounds, compared with 80 returned by South Korea.

Satellite photos showed only about 10 South Korean rounds landed near North Korea’s army barracks along the west coast, according to the office of lawmaker Kwon Young-se, who said he saw the images provided Thursday by the National Intelligence Service. …

Also Friday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea has boosted the number of multiple-launch rockets capable of hitting Seoul, which is home to some 25 million people including its satellite cities.

Yonhap, citing an unidentified South Korean military source, said North Korea’s rockets have increased by 100 pieces to about 5,200. …

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Related reports on this site

Image: Planes fly in formation
Planes fly in formation over the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the seas east of the Korean peninsula on July 27, 2010. U.S. and South Korean ships got into position in the Yellow Sea on Sunday for the four-day exercise, said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, spokesman for the 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan. (Photo credit: MC3 Charles Oki / AP)

North Korea Steps Up Nuclear Threat Against U.S. (Jan. 27, 2013)

Perilous Flare-Up of Korean War (Nov. 24, 2010)

North Korea ‘Very Dangerous’ (Nov. 22, 2010)

Kim Jong-un Succession in North Korea (Oct. 11, 2010)

Kim Jong Il Threat Assessment (May 31, 2009)


Kim Jong Un seen in what appears to be a military command center, signing an order to ready his forces to target the U.S. mainland and American bases in East Asia, March 29, 2013. The map against the wall appears to show the West coast of the United States, with the text reading 미본토타격계획 (“U.S. Mainland Strike Plan”).

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 25, 2009

Barack Obama’s Decision-Making Style

President Obama meets with members of his administration in the Situation Room. (Photo: Pete Souza / The White House via Associated Press)
President Obama meets with members of his administration in the Situation Room. (Photo credit: Pete Souza / The White House via AP)

One year ago today, I provided an analysis of President Barack Obama’s political personality, leadership style, and decision-making on Afghanistan.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 25, 2008

Shoddy Contracting Kills U.S. Troops

Ryan Maseth, a 24-year-old Green Beret, died in his shower January 2.
Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, 24

Two years ago today, on Nov. 25, 2008, I reported that KBR, a contractor providing services to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, had committed serious violations of its contract, mainly by conducting inadequate inspections of electrical wiring and grounding at American bases. The Pentagon findings stemmed from the death of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a highly decorated 24-year-old Green Beret from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was electrocuted on January 2, 2008 while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad.

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7 Responses to “Winds of War in Korea”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Kim Jong-un Succession in N. Korea Says:

    [...] Winds of War in Korea (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Perilous Flare-Up of Korean War Says:

    [...] Winds of War in Korea (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » North Korea ‘Very Dangerous’ Says:

    [...] Winds of War in Korea (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Kim Jong-Il Threat Assessment Says:

    [...] Winds of War in Korea (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Push Could Come to Shove in Korea Says:

    [...] Winds of War on Korean Peninsula (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  6. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Mullen Puts Kim Jong-il on Notice Says:

    [...] Winds of War on Korean Peninsula (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

  7. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » North Korea Threat Assessment: The Psychological Profile of Kim Jong-un Says:

    [...] Winds of War in Korea (Nov. 25, 2010) [...]

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