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Marine vowed to defend hometown after N. Korean attacks

Posted November. 21, 2013 08:37,   


This reporter visited Peace Park located at the village of Nambu-ri, Yeonpyeong Island Wednesday afternoon. The park, which offers a panoramic view of North Korean islands in the Yellow Sea, has bust sculptures of Lieutenant Commander Yoon Yeong-ha and six seamen who died at the Second Naval Battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002, and Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Seo Jeong-woo and Private First Class Moon Gwang-wook who died due to the North’s artillery attacks on the island in 2010, which all were erected in 2011.

Private First Class Lee Seong-won, 20, who volunteered to join the Marine Corps in February and is serving at the operations division at the Yeonpyeong Unit, offered a chrysanthemum flower at the bust sculptures of Staff Sergeant Seo and Private First Class Moon at the park, and paid respect to them. Born in Yeonpyeong Island, Lee experienced North Korea’s provocations when he was a junior at Yeonpyeong High School.

“When we were taking a pilot test of the College Scholastic Aptitude Test, we had a flurry of artillery shells coming down from the sky. Fireballs erupted around the school, and I thought that a war broke out.”

Leaving behind the scene of the island that was being reduced to ashes in a matter of minutes, he took refuge with his grandparents. He returned to the island in March the following year. Viewing homes destroyed by bombshells and broken windows of every different home, he quivered with anger over the North’s atrocity. Many of his friends suffered from trauma after the North’s attacks, but they renewed commitment with each other and continued studying.

While studying at the lifetime sports department at Bucheon University, he took leave of absence and joined the military last year. Following suit of his grandfather, 75, and father (died in 1993), who served as a Marine Corps petty officers, he joined the Marine Corps to constitute a three-generation Marines family. He would think to himself that he would join the Marine Corps when he reaches the age for compulsory military duty, but he further consolidated his determination after experiencing in person the North’s provocation in person.

When asked about the mood at the Yeonpyeong Unit ahead of the third anniversary of the North’s artillery attacks, Lee said “All soldiers at the unit expressed their strong commitment to combat to ensure that the death of staff sergeant Seo and private first class Moon, who died in the line of duty, will not prove futile.” He added, “If the North launches provocation again, we will sternly respond and have it pay for the price from three years ago without fail.” On the controversy in the political circle this year over alleged giving-up of the inter-Korean Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea by the former President Roh Moo-hyun, Lee said, “We are guarding the NLL with the determination not to give in even a single inch, because it is the frontier of national security that guards the Republic of Korea’s peace and stability and the Maginot Line.” When he completes study after finishing his military duty, he said he will return to his hometown and become a sports coach for children and senior citizens.