North Korea shells South, killing 2 soldiers and prompting trade of fire
North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, in one of the heaviest bombardments on the South since the Korean War ended in 1953. South Korea responded by firing 80 rounds of shells back at the North.
South Korea's military said two soldiers were killed in the attack, and another 17 troops and at least three civilians wounded. South Korean military returned the fire and sent a jet fighter to the area.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has pursued a hard line with the reclusive North since taking office nearly three years ago, said a response had to be firm following the attack on Yeonpyeong island, just 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital Seoul.
Witnesses said at least 60 or 70 houses were struck in the shelling. "Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can't see very well because of plumes of smoke," a witness on the island told YTN Television.
YTN said at least 200 North Korean shells hit Yeonpyeong, which lies off the west coast of the divided peninsula near a disputed maritime border. Most of the shells landed on a South Korean military base there.
The attack comes just as a U.S. envoy is traveling to the region after revelations that the North is moving ahead with uranium enrichment, a possible second path to manufacture material for atomic weapons.
A U.S. academic, Siegfried Hecker, who recently visited North Korea, said at the weekend that he had seen more than a thousand centrifuges for enriching uranium during a tour of the North's Yongbyon nuclear complex.
North Korea shells South in fiercest attack in decades
The basis for these attacks may be found in this reuters article:
The attack, with South Korea returning fire came as the reclusive state has been pressing regional powers to return to negotiations about its nuclear weapons program, and it follows revelations at the weekend that Pyongyang is fast developing another source of material to make atomic bombs.
It also follows moves by iron leader Kim Jong-il to make his youngest son heir apparent to the family dynasty.
Experts say that for decades the Korean leadership has played a carefully calibrated game of provocations to win concessions from the international community and impress his own military. The risk is that the leadership transition has upset this balance and that events spin out of control.
This whole situation may be escalated based on the mindset of S Korean President:
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has pursued a hard line with the reclusive North since taking office nearly three years ago, said a response had to be firm following the attack on Yeonpyeong island, just 120 km (75 miles) west of Seoul.
"Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can't see very well because of plumes of smoke," a witness on the island told YTN Television before the shelling ended after about an hour.
News of the attack rattled global markets, already unsettled by Ireland's debt woes and shifting to less risky assets.
North Korea fires artillery barrage on South
N Korea fires artillery onto S Korea island
Koreas in border artillery clash
This article has more detail on S Korea's response:
The South's military immediately fired back some 80 shells in self-defence, Col Lee Bung-woo added.
Local government spokesman Yoon Kwan-seok said the shelling lasted for about an hour and then stopped abruptly.
The South Korean military has also deployed fighter jets to Yeonpyeong, which lies about 3km (1.8 miles) south of the disputed inter-Korean maritime border and 100km (60 miles) west of the Korean Peninsula.
So what does all of this mean prophetically?
Biblical prophecy doesn't mention North or South Korea specifically. This episode would most appropriately fall under the heading of "Wars and rumors of war", and beyond that it is hard to see any prophetic significance.
However - one has to wonder if this presents some type of diversion, somehow favorable to Iran.
During these last days, whenever I see something sensational, such as this most recent episode, I tend to start REALLY looking elsewhere for "hidden" news that could represent the "real" story. As a result, I will be watching the Middle East and Iran VERY closely in the coming days and weeks, just in case. It's just a possibility to be aware of.
In all probability, as the article above mentions, this episode most likely represents a cumbersome method by N Korea to engage in "a carefully calibrated game of provocations to win concessions from the international community" regarding its nuclear program.
However, such games are very dangerous and always run the risk of significant, uncontrollable escalation into war.
We just don't know where this is going.
Meanwhile, as mentioned, I'm looking elsewhere in the world, preferably the Middle East and Iran in the event that this IS a diversion of some sort. Just in case.
UPDATE: Its always worth seeing Debka's analysis:
Tokyo presses for military response to North Korean attack
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called President Barak Obama urgently in the wake of the North Korean artillery attack on South Korea's Yeonpyeong island near the Yellow Sea border early Tuesday, Nov. 23 and demanded a US-South Korean-Japanese military reprisal.
He also demanded that the UN Security Council be convened immediately on the crisis. He put the same demands to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in another call. Naoto Kan then ordered his ministers to prepare for "unexpected events."
DEBKAfile's military sources report that the Korean clash has prompted a special alert in the US Seventh Fleet headquarters at Yokosuka in Japan, together with the naval forces stationed there including the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. They are covering South Korea's massive annual military exercises involving some 70,000 troops scheduled to last from Monday through Nov. 30.
The Japanese prime minister said that North Korea cannot be permitted to carry out two armed attacks on the South in the space of eight months without facing any military counteraction. On March 26, North Korean torpedoes sunk the South Korean Cheonan cruiser. At least 46 seamen were lost.
Obama's refusal to respond to the Japanese call, despite the presence of 28,000 US troops on the Korean armistice border – even with limited military action - would devalue the US defensive umbrella pledged South Korea and Japan against North Korean aggression. It would also place in doubt American resolve for firm action against Iran. Washington's avoidance of military action against Pyongyang will resonate loudly across the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.