The day after a first salvo from Pyongyang which triggered Seoul’s response with live ammunition exercises in the region, North Korea fired more than sixty shells near the remote South Korean island on Saturday, January 6. of Yeonpyeong, “between approximately 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.” (between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Paris time), said the South Korean army general staff, warning Pyongyang against a continuation of these shots.

On Friday, North Korea fired more than two hundred shells into the Yellow Sea near the South Korean islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong. North Korea claimed that its shelling near the two islands was “a natural response and countermeasure” to military exercises carried out by Seoul, according to the official KCNA agency.

Yeonpyeong Island, which has around 2,000 inhabitants, is located 115 kilometers west of Seoul and around ten kilometers south of the North Korean coast. Also very close to North Korea, Baengnyeong, populated by 4,900 inhabitants, is 210 kilometers from the South Korean capital. Residents of both islands had been ordered to shelters, according to local officials. Ferry services connecting the islands to the rest of South Korea have been suspended.

“A threat to peace”

It was the biggest escalation on the peninsula since the North Korean military bombed Yeonpyeong in 2010 in response to a South Korean live-munition exercise near the border. This first North Korean attack against civilians since the Korean War (1950-1953) left four dead – two soldiers and two civilians.

On both Saturday and Friday, North Korean shells landed in a buffer zone created in 2018 as part of an agreement between the two neighbors aimed at preventing border military incidents. But Seoul partially suspended the deal last November to protest Pyongyang’s launch of a spy satellite, and the North rejected the entire deal soon after.

The South Korean military said Saturday that North Korean artillery fire in the area “poses a threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” She issued “a severe warning” and called on North Korea to stop immediately, assuring that “in response [the] military will take appropriate measures to safeguard the country.”