Smoke rises from South Korean Yeonpyeong Island after being hit by dozens of artillery shells fired by North Korea yesterday, in this picture taken by a South Korean tourist.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (L) listens to Defence Minister Kim Tae-young (2nd R) during the urgent security conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul yesterday.
"North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing two soldiers, in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953.
The barrage -- the South fired back and sent a fighter jet to the area -- was close to a disputed maritime border on the west of the divided peninsula and the scene of deadly clashes in the past. South Korea was conducting military drills in the area at the time but said it had not been firing at the North.
The attack came as the reclusive North, and its ally China, presses regional powers to return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program and revelations at the weekend Pyongyang is fast developing another source of material to make atomic bombs.
It also follows moves by leader Kim Jong-il to make his youngest, but unproven, son his heir apparent, leading some analysts to question whether the bombardment might in part have been an attempt to burnish the ruling family's image with the military.
"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, which lasted about an hour, ended.
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 landed on a military base there.
Photographs from Yeongyeong island, just 120 km (75 miles) west of Seoul, showed columns of smoke rising from buildings. Two soldiers were killed in the attack, 17 wounded. Three civilians were also hurt.
News of the attack rattled global markets, already unsettled by Ireland's debt woes and a shift to less risky assets.
Experts say North Korea's Kim has for decades played a carefully calibrated game of provocation to squeeze 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.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has pursued a hard line with the North since taking office nearly three years ago, said a response had to be firm following the attack.
But he made no suggestion the South would retaliate further, suggesting Seoul was taking a measured response to prevent things getting out of hand.
The North has a huge array of artillery pointed at Seoul that could decimate an urban area home to around 25 million people and cause major damage to its trillion dollar economy.
The two Koreas are still technically at war -- the Korean War ended only with a truce -- and tension rose sharply early this year after Seoul accused the North of torpedoing one of its navy vessels, killing 46 sailors.
North Korea said its wealthy neighbor started the fight.
"Despite our repeated warnings, South Korea fired dozens of shells from 1 p.m. ... and we've taken strong military action immediately," its KCNA news agency said in a brief statement."
I did wake up this morning, so no night time nuclear explosions. But things are still a little tense up North, so for the mean time I think its wise for everyone to just be prepared...for what Im not sure...does South Africa even have an emergency procedure for Foreigners here in South korea to follow?! I will find out...but never fear:
Tuesday brought news of direct artillery barrages between North and South Korea, heightening tensions and costing lives. But as provocative and serious as this is, neither is a crisis. Both fit a clear pattern of North Korean behavior -- a pattern that ultimately holds out the opportunity for progress. CNN
Well thats according to Joe Cirincione and Paul Carroll, Specialists to CNN.
So...nothing to worry about then :)