Asia South Korean Minister warns North Korea on somber anniversary

South Korean Minister warns North Korea on somber anniversary

Defense Minister Han Min-koo
Defense Minister Han Min-koo

(AA) – South Korea’s defense chief cautioned North Korea on Monday that the authoritarian state would “bitterly feel the cost” if it were to launch any more provocations.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo’s threat came on the 13th anniversary of the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, during which six South Korean naval officers were killed — along with 13 North Koreans.

Under similar circumstances to a confrontation three years earlier, the fighting broke out after a patrol vessel from the North crossed south of the western maritime demarcation line that separates the Koreas.

Ironically, the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong occurred at a time of relatively strong Seoul-Pyongyang ties, following a first summit of the Koreas’ leaders in 2000. By contrast, an attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 led Seoul to impose heavy sanctions against North Korea.

“If North Korea launches a reckless provocation again, our military will sternly retaliate on the origin of the provocation as well as supporting and commanding forces,” Han warned at an anniversary ceremony.

Tensions remain heightened off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast because Pyongyang disputes the position of their de facto sea border, or Northern Limit Line.

South Korean interest in the events of June 29, 2002, has been boosted by the popularity of a film depicting the skirmish.

Named after the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, the movie had attracted local audience figures of more than a million in just four days as of the weekend, according to its distributor NEW.

North Korea has been intensifying its own threats this month, amid the opening in Seoul of a United Nations human rights office aimed at investigating allegations of widespread abuse instigated by Pyongyang’s leadership.

The Koreas technically remain in a state of conflict, having never signed a peace treaty at the official closing of the Korean War in 1953.

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