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Presidential Committee Calls for Stern Response to N. Korean NLL Violation

Presidential Committee Calls for Stern Response to N. Korean NLL Violation

Posted August. 28, 2007 03:14,   


Amid mounting criticism over the government’s move to put the issue of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea on the second inter-Korean summit’s agenda, the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperative Initiative was confirmed to have said yesterday that the South Korean government should take stern response in accordance with rules of engagement if North Korea crosses the NLL or the maritime border between the two Koreas.

“The analyses of mid-to-long term Northeast Asia security strategies in the four countries surrounding the Korean peninsula,” a 2005 April report commissioned by the presidential committee, stressed that Seoul should clearly state its will to stick to the current NLL against Pyongyang until the two Koreas agree on a maritime border in the waters of the Yellow Sea.

The report also said that Seoul needs to take adequate and stern actions against Pyongyang’s NLL violations in line with set rules of engagement as in the 1999 naval skirmishes off Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea, and that such actions are the only way to reduce casualties and build trust between both Koreas.

At the time of the naval skirmishes off Yeonpyeong Island on June 15, 1999, North Korea carried out preemptive strikes by mobilizing torpedo boats in addition to rifles and guns as the South tried to turn away North Korean patrol boats that had advanced five kilometers south of the NLL.

In response, South Korean patrol ships and high-speed patrol boats fired back, engaging in a skirmish for about five minutes. During the combat, North Korea took huge damage, including the loss of a patrol boat and a torpedo boat, leaving dozens of sailors wounded, whereas part of a South Korean high-speed boat was damaged and seven South Korean sailors were injured.

However, three years later during a naval skirmish on June 29, 2002, North Korean patrol boats ambushed a South Korea boat sinking, killing six and wounding 19 sailors.

The aforementioned report said that skirmishes off Yeonpyeong Island were an exemplary case where the South Korean navy responded to the North’s NLL violation well according to the rules of engagement.

Such an evaluation could be interpreted as stressing the need for combat readiness to prevent another provocation to violate the NLL by North Korea, which runs counter to the position within the government, most notably the Ministry of Unification, that Seoul should consult with Pyongyang over the NLL issue.

Meanwhile, Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Ki-hyeon pointed out in a news report on the same day that the discrepancy on the NLL issue between the Unification Ministry and the committee document revealed serious inconsistencies in the incumbent government’s NLL policy.