South Korea’s Marine Corps on Thursday conducted the first live-fire drill at the islands near the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea since the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The late North Korean leader died of heart failure on Dec. 17.
Thursday’s exercise was conducted by Marine Corps units based on the West Sea islands including Baengnyeongdo and Yeonpyeongdo, and involved Vulcan anti-aircraft guns, 81 millimeter mortars and K-9 self-propelled artillery.
According to the Marine Corps, the exercise was a regular monthly event, and that it had no connection to recent developments in North Korea. The last exercise was conducted on Dec. 12.
The waters off the South Korean islands as well as the islands themselves are sources of contention between the two Koreas with North Korea having made several military provocations in the past to nullify the NLL.
In 1999 and 2002, the North Korean navy engaged the South Korean Navy off the coast of Yeonpyeongdo, with the second incident resulting in the death of six South Korean sailors.
Yeonpyeongdo was also the target of unprovoked shelling by North Korea on Nov. 23, 2010 that left two South Korean civilians and two marines dead.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com