Korean Border Conflicts and Incidents



Smoke rises from the North Korean Attack on Yeonpyeong Island November 23, 2010


North Korea FlagSouth Korea Flag

The Korean War (1950-1953) officially never really ended. The war's major fighting ended with an armistice signed on July 27, 1953 between North Korea and its foes, South Korea and the United Nations. Over the next 50-plus years, numerous border battles, clashes, incidents, espionage thrillers, assassination attempts, and terrorist acts have occurred between North and South Korea, often involving American forces as well.

The U.S. maintains 28,500 troops defending South Korea and a treaty obligation to aid the South in the event of war with North Korea.

Below is a partial listing of some of those incidents of violence between North and South Korea in recent years, including the recent attacks on a South Korean warship and the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

North Korean Attack on Yeonpyeong Island --November 23, 2010-North Korean forces launched a surprise artillery attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. About 175 artillery shells landed on the island. The attack killed two South Korean marines, two civilians and injured 15 South Korean troops and three civilians. South Korea responded to the attack by shelling two North Korean coastal artillery bases on the mainland with K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The South Korean military also scrambled F-16 fighter jets toward the area of conflict.

Many analysts believed that the attack was related to the ongoing succession issue in North Korea as the then-current leader, Kim Jong-Il was preparing to hand over power to his son, Kim Jong-Un. (See also Dictators and Tyrants in World History)

After the attack, the South Korean Defense Minister resigned his post amid criticism that the initial South Korean military response should have been more robust in the face of the North Korean attack.


Artillery Heard in North Korea; U.S. Carrier Enters Yellow Sea--Bloomberg, November 27, 2010

North Korea readies missiles as U.S., South Korea begin drill--Globe and Mail, Nov. 27, 2010

New Korean war could ensnare Canada, documents suggest--Globe and Mail, Nov. 26, 2010

North Korea Issues Warning as Artillery Fire Rattles Island--New York Times, Nov. 26, 2010

North Korea attack linked to leadership succession--ABC News, Nov. 25, 2010

South Korea May Name Ex-General, Security Aide to Defense Post--Bloomberg, Nov. 25, 2010

U.S. aircraft carrier's arrival off Korean peninsula also sends a message to China--Washington Post, November 24, 2010

Korean Clash Forces the U.S. to Weigh Options--New York Times, Nov. 23, 2010

Emerging-Market Stocks Tumble Most in Five Months After Korean Conflict--Bloomberg, Nov. 23, 2010

Shelling of Yeonpyeong --Wikipedia Article



The Sinking of the South Korean Warship Cheonan --March 26, 2010-The South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, was exploded and sank on March 26, 2010, killing 45 South Korean sailors. South Korea blames the sinking of the ship on a North Korean torpedo launced from a North Korean submarine. North Korea denies any involvement with the sinking of the South Korean ship, and threatened "all out war" if South Korea retaliates.

South Korea on alert as tension grows over patrol boat sinking: South Korea's president expected to refer sinking of vessel to UN security council--May 22, 2010, Times Online

‘All out war’ threatened over North Korea attack on warship Cheonan --May 20, 2010, Times Online

South Korea Says North Sank Warship--Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2010

ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772)--Wikipedia article on the Cheonan

Naval clash between North and South Korean Navies --November 09, 2009- A North Korean naval vessel entered South Korean waters, refused to return to the North, and then was brought under fire by the South Korean navy. The North Korean ship was partially destroyed, and managed to escape back across the Naval Limit Line, which is the sea-border between the Koreas. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Northern incursion came only days before U.S. President Barack Obama was due to visit East Asia.

Capture of South Korean fishing boat --July 29, 2009- North Korean naval forces seized a South Korean fishing vessel early on the morning of July 29, 2009, after it accidentally strayed into North Korean waters. The South Korean governement asked the Pyongyang regime to release the fishing boat and to return the four crewmen. The captured ship is 29 tons and is called the "800 Yeonan." The South claims the ship strayed into North Korean waters due to a satellite navigation system error or malfunction.

Korean Border Tension --January, 2009-North and South Korea both mobilized their military forces in response to verbal threats and posturing related to North Korea's statement that it has "weaponized" plutonium in its nuclear warheads.

SKorea army on alert after North's military threat--Jan. 18, 2009, Associated Press

Researcher: North Korea has `weaponized' plutonium--Jan. 17, 2009, Associated Press

Korean Naval Border Clash --June 28, 2002-North and South Korean naval vessels fought a twenty-minute gun battle in which 4 South Korean sailors died and 18 wounded near Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea. A South Korean frigate was sunk and a North Korean vessel sustained damage.

Japanese Sinking of Spy Ship-Dec. 21 and 22, 2001-The Japanese Coast Guard chased a suspected spy ship and sank it. Crewmembers of the spy ship fired on the Japanese ships, wounding two Coast Guard sailors. Spy ship crew all believed dead. Japan supects the ship was North Korean.

Korean Border Clash --Nov. 27, 2001--The first cross-border shooting of 2001 between North and South Korea. North Korean troops fired several shots at a South Korean guard post. Fire was returned by the South Koreans.

Korean Naval Border Clash (June 1999) --Six North Korean patrol boats repeatedly cross the Yellow Sea maritime border over the course of nine days, prompting an exchange of fire between the North and South Koreans. South Korea says 20 to 30 North Korean sailors are killed, while seven South Korean sailors were wounded.

North Korean Terrorist Bombing of South Korean Airliner (November 1987)-- Bombing of South Korean airliner kills 115 passengers and crew. Two North Korean spies found responsible.

Nuclear Tensions


North Korean Nuclear Test --October 9, 2006--North Korea conducted its first nuclear test

North Korean Nuclear Test --May 23, 2009--North Korea claims to have conducted its second nuclear test

 Korean Nuclear Tensions Resources:
Q+A-What's the real threat of N.Korea's nuclear programme?--Reuters, May 24, 2009

2006 North Korean Nuclear Test--Wikipedia Article


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