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`13 NK Seamen Killed in 2002 Inter-Korean Naval Battle`

Posted June. 29, 2009 09:29,   


An inter-Korean naval battle around Yeonpyeong Island on June 29, 2002, resulted in North Korean casualties of 13 men killed and 25 injured, a former high-ranking South Korean military officer said yesterday.

Retired Brig. Gen. Kwon Young-dal, 59, said a North Korea patrol boat had its navigational platform and gun almost completely destroyed due to massive gunfire from South Korean warships. As a result, the North’s military suffered larger than expected damage.

Kwon led the military intelligence unit of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong seven years ago. Retiring in 2004 as a general after serving as chief of the military intelligence and eavesdropping units of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he later worked as ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2006 to April last year.

The following is excerpts of The Dong-A Ilbo’s interview with Kwon a day ahead of the seventh anniversary of the battle.

“There is a misunderstanding that our military suffered unilateral damage in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong because no specific information on the North Korean military’s damage has been accurately detailed thus far.

The battle was not a "lost war" for the South Korean military at all. Rather, it was a precious victory for our military, as our soldiers preserved the Northern Limit Line and inflicted huge damage on our adversary.

Our analysis of North Korean intelligence gathered through various channels following the battle showed that 13 North Korean seamen were killed and 25 others were injured, and this was accordingly reported to the higher chain of command. Notably, though North Korea launched a preemptive attack a South Korean speedboat, most soldiers on the North Korean speedboat were killed in the battle due to the courageous counterattack of our soldiers.

Additionally, intelligence we gathered following the battle also confirmed that a North Korean patrol boat that had returned to Sagok military base in Hwanghae Province was completely destroyed. North Korea’s higher chain of command also reported an emergency situation after being embarrassed by the massive damage its military suffered.

Everyone who attended a military intelligence meeting the day after the battle concurred that the attack was thoroughly intentional based on the special intelligence gathered and presented by South Korean and U.S. eavesdropping units.

As a person who has long dealt with North Korean intelligence, including the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, I agonized over whether to give an interview. But the battle was an apparent victory for the South Korean military, and I only wish that our soldiers’ sacrifice and achievements are recognized accurately and properly.