메뉴 건너뛰기

참여연대 공식일정+ 더보기

PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Peace/Disarmament
  • 2002.07.18
  • 714
A naval gun battle between the two Koreas happened on 29 June in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. This tragedy was not just about the loss of lives and military equipment on both sides.

The Defense Ministry of South Korea concluded on 6 July that the naval clash was triggered by North Korea's intentional surprise attack against the South Korean navy in the Yellow Sea. During the naval crash, a South's patrol boat sank with four sailors killed, and 19 others wounded. One sailor is listed missing. A North Korean warship was badly damaged and towed away in flames by another patrol boat and about 30 sailors are believed to be dead or wounded, the Defense Ministry said.

The incident came at a time when inter-Korean reconciliation initiated by the historic summit between President Kim and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il about two years ago has been suspended. South Korea's major political parties immediately accused North Korea of raising tension on the peninsula with a military provocation violating the armistice agreement between two Koreas. Meanwhile, the North's navy criticized South Korea's news media for distorting the facts of the battle claiming that the South Korean boats violated the maritime border and fired first.

The core question with reference to the battle is whether it was planned or not. The answer could reshape the North's relationship with not only the South but also the United States. Those relationships will have a great deal of influence on the security of Korean peninsula. If the North and the United States fail to resume talks, North Korea's moratorium on missile testing will end next spring and the light-water reactor construction project and the Geneva Agreement on nuclear armament may come under serious threat.

More than US-North relations is the negative effect this incident will bring to the South's national politics, facing a December nationwide election that looks increasingly desperate, and the critics in Seoul as well as Washington who reportedly show their doubts about the Sunshine policy of the Kim Dae-jung administration. The opposition parties are calling for a halt of the Mt. Geumgang tour and for scrapping the Sunshine policy towards North Korea.

The bits of evidence found here and there seems to suggest that the battle was the result of a surprise attack by the North. It was found that fishermen based in the battle area caught almost three times as much in the days leading up to the deadly battle. According to allegations, 56 South Korean private fishing boats in the day were operating outside the fishing limit line, 9.6 km south of the Northern Limit Line just before the clash. It was around the beginning of the breeding season for blue crabs and the fishermen were eager for a big catch as they have seen their profits dwindle recently. Many of them reportedly ignored the warnings of the South Korean patrol boats and crossed into an off-limits zone, where fishing is not allowed, to chase the prized crabs. The South Korean navy patrol boat had to chase them to bring them back to the designated fishing area. The South's navy boats herding the fishing boats southward could have looked different from the northern side of the NLL (Northern Limit Line).

Some kind of clash had actually been predicted in this area due to the unclear maritime border between the two Koreas. According to the statistics provided by maritime police, there were 10 violations of the maritime border this year as of the end of May, which is a sharp increase from 4 in all of 1998, 5 in 1999, 7 in 2000, and 12 in 2001. The controversial de facto border, which was drawn up by the UNC (United Nations Commend) in 1953, has been a bone of contention between two Koreas, but the armistice agreement signed in same year between the two Koreas did not specify the border in the water west of the peninsula. It was agreed that five islands in the area would fall under UN control and the UN unilaterally declared the Northern Limit Line the de facto border. Pyongyang brought up the issue to the Military Armistice Commission for the first time in 1973 after a naval skirmish in the Yellow Sea. The latest claim was made in 1999, immediately after a similar North-South sea battle in Yellow Sea. The North demanded then that the border be redrawn. The UN Command recommended that the border be discussed between the two Koreas. But the North insisted on talking with Washington. In September 1999, the North Korean military announced its unilateral maritime line, which is downward from the NLL.

The South Korean Navy is willing to revise its engagement rules, which were drawn up by the UNC, amid criticism that the South Korean Navy was left open to the North's attack. Meanwhile, the South Korean president has confirmed that his engagement policy with North Korea will remain in place despite the border incident. Pyongyang has also shown ardent gestures of peace, rarely seen before, since the incident. They have sent congratulations on the South's success in the World Cup and are proceeding with other inter-Korean exchanges as scheduled.

It is important to keep the Sunshine policy to prevent possible threats to the Korean peninsula as the North-US relationship becomes worse. The normalization of the South-North relationship has been the only alternative to mollify tensions surrounding the Korean peninsula. The sudden attack was not because of the sunshine policy. The clash was immediately caused by fishermen fishing in violation of the fishing restriction line, but the tragedy had its fundamental roots in the unilateral NLLs declared by the North and South respectively.

This new tension could be a chance to see some more progress in future inter-Korean ties if both sides acknowledge their faults about the navy battle and look for a permanent resolution for the de facto maritime border in the water. It would be a long process to make a consensus of both sides concerning the maritime border. While North-South proceed with their talks about the maritime border, in long-term it is needed to immediately build up the circumstances for fishermen of both sides do their works in peace by declaring a joint fishery area in the water around the current maritime border.
PSPD
지금 내가 할 수 있는 참여와 행동에 동참해주세요
참여연대 회원가입·후원하기
목록
제목 날짜
PSPD Annual Report 2017 2018.12.27
How to find PSPD? 2012.11.17
About PSPD 2017.06.09
Strike of Three Trade Unions, its Progress and Responsibility   2002.08.24
Undemocratic Anti-Terror Bill   2002.08.24
Anti-Terrorism Act in South Korea   2002.08.24
Conscientious Objectors against Military Service in Korea   2002.08.24
Another World... It"s Starting at the World Soial Forum!   2002.08.24
Statement Announced by Korean NGOs 1   2002.08.24
Statement Announced by Korean NGOs 2   2002.08.24
Statement Announced by Korean NGOs 3   2002.08.24
Bush's Visit to Korea and Peace for Korean People   2002.08.24
Surabaya Legal Aid Institute in Indonesia   2002.08.24
F-15 Pressure and Anti-American Sentiment   2002.08.24
Asia-Africa Beyond Globalization   2002.08.24
ANFREL's Activity for the Cambodian Commune Election 2002   2002.08.24
Citizen's Action to Change Election   2002.08.24
Campaign to Enact Five Reform Programs   2002.08.24
© k2s0o1d4e0s2i1g5n. Some Rights Reserved