South Korea Fired the First Shot → Washingtons Blog
South Korea Fired the First Shot - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

South Korea Fired the First Shot

While North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is a madman, and while North Korea was the first to kill anyone in today's skirmish, it was actually the South Koreans who fired first.

As AP notes:

The skirmish began when Pyongyang [i.e. North Korea] warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul [i.e. South Korea] refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations....
And see this.

In addition, the two South Koreans killed were marines, not civilians, stationed in a military town.

Obviously, firing artillery into the water and actually killing people are very different, and I am in no way defending North Korea or its crazy leader. I am simply trying to point out that the headlines can't be taken in a vacuum.


  1. North Korea doesn't have any authority to demand South Korea stop live fire exercises within their own territory. That's a nonstarter from a law of armed conflict perspective.

    Even if there was some justification for the North Koreans taking action, which there wasn't, they are bound by the same law to take proportional response- killing people and destroying property is not the proportional response to this.

    While there are many examples of violations even on "our side", this one, barring some new information is not one of them.

  2. Oh Please # uno poster. The island belongs to north KOREA. I guess in your books--it's peachie AOK for Israel on a daily bases to bomb the crap out of palestine and when the PalsOFmine retelate--they are the bad guys. N.Koreans have suffered enough--please do tell us--what's it Uncle ScAM's business being in this area?

  3. The key word is "disputed territory." The two countries have never agreed on the exact boundaries of their armistice line in the waters. S.Korea believed its drills were in its own part of the sea.

  4. Military exercises directly adjacent to the border in such a politically charged part of the world seems highly provactive to me.

    Surely both sides can agree to a nice wide 'no excercises' zone and stick to it out of a mutual desire for survival?

  5. South Korea's president is incompetent

    He tried to sacrifice the Defense Minister for his mistakes.

    The current South Korean president precipitated these episodes of fighting on the Korean maritime border by repudiating the Declaration issued by South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun after meeting with Kim Jong Il on October 4, 2007.

    The Declaration stated:

    "The South and the North have agreed to create a ‘special peace and cooperation zone in the West Sea’ encompassing Haeju and vicinity in a bid to proactively push ahead with the creation of a joint fishing zone and maritime peace zone, establishment of a special economic zone, utilization of Haeju harbor, passage of civilian vessels via direct routes in Haeju and the joint use of the Han River estuary.” (Jon Van Dyke, “The Maritime boundary between North & South Korea in the Yellow (West) Sea,” 38 North, U.S.-Korea Institute Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, July 29, 2010. Online at: )

    The maritime northern limit line was drawn unilaterally in 1953 by the US, was not a part of the Armistice and is generally considered to be incompatible with general principles of the law of maritime borders.

  6. Several days ago I heard an NPR story state that South Korea not only shot the first shots into the disputed sea, but they also shot the first shots onto land in North Korea. Can someone help me find that NPR story?

    I was driving at the time and couldn't make a note of the show name.


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