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Another firing drill slated on Yeonpyeong Island

Posted December. 18, 2010 10:55,   


Tension is rising on Yeonpyeong Island after the South Korean Defense Ministry’s announcement Friday of another firing drill using self-propelled guns as early as Saturday morning.

Busy military movement and Marine vehicles frequently appeared on the island, raising the anxiety of residents in the run-up to the drill.

After news of the exercise broke, the number of people entering the island declined. Twenty-nine residents returned to Yeonpyeong using passenger ships that departed from a passenger terminal in Incheon, but the same number of people on the island left after hearing of the drill.

The remaining number of residents on the island is 116.

Foreign major news outlets dispatched reporters to the island to cover the standoff between the two Koreas surrounding the resumption of the drill. A reporter from the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun said, “If the firing drill that triggered the North Korean provocation resumes, this will intensify the anxiety of residents and inter-Korean tension.”

Remaining Yeonpyeong residents, however, remained calm and continued with their lives. A restaurant owner said, “I heard about the upcoming drill but I returned to the island to maintain my freezers for blue crabs and fix water pipes frozen due to the cold wave,” adding, “Though I’m worried, I won’t return to Incheon.”

The cold spell froze many water pipes on the island, making residents there unable to use water. Residents who recently returned to the island are fighting the cold with electric blankets amid the breakdown of heating systems.

Through Friday, the Yeonpyeong township office had checked 13 air-raid shelters on the island and replenished emergency medical supplies, water, blankets and heating devices.

Choi Cheol-yeong, a staff member at the office, said, “Whenever firing drills are conducted, residents will have to evacuate,” adding, “For this, we will continuously check air-raid shelters.”