DPRK, ROK exchange artillery fire

Updated: 2014-04-01 09:17

By Agencies in Seoul and Zhou Wa in Beijing (China Daily)

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DPRK, ROK exchange artillery fire

A TV program reports the DPRK plan to conduct a live-fire drill on Monday. Pyongyang and Seoul exchanged artillery fire off their disputed western sea border. Reuters-Yonhap

Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher of international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said, "Pyongyang knows tension will not help it to break isolation by the international community."

At the same time, the ROK does not want the situation to get out of control, because increased tension is contrary to the peaceful progress initiative of ROK President Park Geun-hye, Jia said.

The White House said the DPRK's actions are dangerous and provocative and will further aggravate tensions in the region.

White House spokesman Jonathan Lalley said the US remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of its allies and is working in close coordination with the ROK and Japan.

ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the DPRK's action "is a planned provocation and an attempt to test our military's determination to defend the Northern Limit Line and to get an upper hand in South-North relations".

The Northern Limit Line, a maritime border that wraps itself round part of the DPRK's coastline, has been the scene of frequent clashes.

In 2010, four people were killed when the DPRK shelled the ROK island of Yeonpyeong. Earlier that year, a ROK naval vessel was sunk close to the line by what some countries said was a DPRK torpedo, although Pyongyang denies involvement.

Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group said, "It's up to the two militaries either to recognize or reject their own claimed line and challenge the other's. This goes back and forth, so this is probably another episode."

The Northern Limit Line was drawn up at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and the DPRK does not recognize it. The two sides are still technically at war, as the conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Financial markets in the ROK were unmoved by the latest developments. The KOSPI index moved higher after early losses to finish the day up by 0.2 percent as the won extended gains to end onshore trade up by 0.4 percent against the US dollar.

Contact the writer at zhouwa@chinadaily.com.cn


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