South Korea has held a commemoration ceremony to mark the second anniversary of North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island that killed two South Korean troops and two civilians.
The ceremony in Seoul took place on Friday despite threats from Pyongyang that it may attack the island again over what it calls South Korea’s provocative claim that it was victorious in a deadly artillery exchange there.
About 4,000 people, including South Korea’s Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin, attended the ceremony in Seoul.
North Korea shelled the island in November 2010, prompting South Korea to return fire. Pyongyang says it did not suffer any casualties.
Seoul claimed to have won in the clashes and plans to open a “victorious battle memorial hall” on Yeonpyeong Island this week to mark its anniversary.
Addressing those gathered, Kim said the attack on Yeonpyeong was “reckless brutality by North Korea that did not discriminate between soldiers and civilians”.
He said that the attack confirmed that “war in the Korean Peninsula has still not ended”, and that it served as a reminder that “we are confronting a very violent and unpredictable group”.
Kim also vowed to take thorough action against any kind of provocation from the North so that South Korea does “not lose even one span of land or an inch of our waters”.
On Thursday, an unidentified spokesman at the North Korean military’s southwestern front command said South Korea’s moves in commemorating the artillery attack and claiming victory were aimed at sparking a war and would lead to “the second Yeonpyeong Island disaster”.
Meanwhile on Friday, on the South-North border at Panmunjom, close to the city of Paju, a ceremony took place to commemorate the death of Jang Myung-ki, a South Korean soldier, who was killed by North Korean soldiers during the Panmunjom shooting incident in 1984.
At the ceremony, Daniel Edwan, a US army colonel in Korea emphasised the Republic of Korea-US military alliance in withstanding the threat from the North.
“This is the ROK-US alliance at its essence. A Korean and US soldier fighting side-by-side – two free men of honour at the edge of democracy, bound by a sacred oath to their countries and to each other,” said Edwan.