In the wake of what is being described as one of the worst attacks on South Korean territory by North Korea since the Korean War began fifty years ago, the United States and South Korea pushed through with naval exercises on Sunday, according to a report from The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, South Koreans are asking for retribution over the attack launched by the North on Yeonpyeong Island, home to fishing communities and military bases. The artillery bombardment resulted in the deaths of four South Koreans, two of whom were civilians.
North Korea, however, claims that civilians were being used as “human shields” for artillery positions. They also claimed that there was a “propaganda campaign” that was being waged against Pyongyang, and that Tuesday’s incident was “orchestrated” by the United States in order to engage in joint naval exercises with South Korea. The exercises include the nuclear-powered super carrier George Washington; this reportedly earned the ire of North Korea, and is a cause of worry for China.
This is the second clash between rivals North and South Korea this year. Eight months ago, a North Korean torpedo was said to have sunk a South Korean warship, resulting in the deaths of 46 Sailors. This was concluded by an international investigation led by South Korea.
It is being speculated that the attack can be tied to an attempt by the North to strengthen its government, at a time when the country is pursuing a transfer of power from Kim Jong Il to a son, among other reasons.