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North Korea Fires Upon South Korea, Putting World On Alert

Kevin Douglas Grant |
November 23, 2010 | 8:50 a.m. PST

Executive Editor

After North Korea smacked a small South Korean island with a barrage of artillery fire Tuesday, Seoul responded in kind. 

The hour-long exchange left two South Korean marines dead, wounded more than 14 and set more than 60 buildings ablaze.

Analysts say the incident is the inevitable product of a tense year, beginning with the March 26 sinking of the Chenoan, a South Koran Warship, followed by Kim Jong-il naming his successor (Kim Jong-un), then the revelation that North Korea has a new uranium processing facility.

The two countries have been in a perpetual state of war since 1953, so hositilies are nothing new.  However, North Korea has been stepping up its provocations, apparently trying to win greater clout on the world stage.

The Wall Street Journal reports:  "'The question for South Korea is how much more serious can these attacks get before the risk of doing nothing and showing there's no cost is worse than the risk of prompting an overreaction by North Korea,' said Andrew Gilholm, analyst in Beijing for Control Risks, a risk consultancy for financial firms. 'My own view is we're still not at that level.'"

President Obama is following the situation closely, though for the time being the exchange appears to be within the range of normal South/North Korean relations.



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