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S. Korea marks 9 years since West Sea clash

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs on Wednesday held a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of a naval skirmish between the two Koreas, which resulted in several casualties on both sides.

Some 2,000 people, including top military officials and members of the bereaved families, attended the ceremony at the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik (third from right) and other participants in a ceremony to mark the anniversary of a 2002 naval skirmish look at a North Korean torpedo part ― used to attack the warship Cheonan last year ― on display in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik (third from right) and other participants in a ceremony to mark the anniversary of a 2002 naval skirmish look at a North Korean torpedo part ― used to attack the warship Cheonan last year ― on display in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

On June 29, 2002, two North Korean patrol ships crossed the Northern Limit Line, a de facto sea border, and attacked the speedboat Chamsuri-357. During the 30-minute firefight, six South Korean soldiers were killed with 18 wounded. Some 30 North Korean soldiers are believed to have been killed or wounded in the skirmish.

During his commemorative speech, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik called out the name of each soldier who died, triggering cries from the family members who lost their sons, husbands or fathers during the bloody clash that followed another skirmish in 1999.

“It was a naval battle, in which our troops blocked provocations by the North Korean vessels and safeguarded the Northern Limit Line (de facto inter-Korean sea border) in the West Sea,” said Kim. “This is a very proud part of our history that showed our determination and courage not to allow the North to invade our territory.”

The ceremony included a floral tribute, incense burning, a commemorative address and musical performances.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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