Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Korea on the Brink: Reading the Yŏnp'yŏng Shelling and its Aftermath


By late December 2010, the truculence of brinkmanship between the two Koreas made it easy to forget that more auspicious signs of compromise had come as recently as this past autumn. The resumption of reunions among separated Korean families in late October and early November appeared to signal a modest improvement in inter-Korean cooperation, raising hopes that a program of cross-border family meetings would not only continue, but also expand. Yet, those hopes were dashed only weeks later when a military crisis escalated off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. On November 23 in a contested maritime zone, a South Korean military exercise was challenged by a North Korean artillery unit, which escalated the confrontation by shelling a South Korean island—killing four South Koreans including two civilians. In the artillery exchange that followed between the two sides, five North Korean soldiers were killed. The stark contrast between the pathos of the tearful family reunions and the panic and anger following the shelling of Yŏnp'yŏng Island, illustrated how quickly the inter-Korean situation had deteriorated. During the same month when South Korea hosted world leaders at the G-20 summit in Seoul to discuss the state of the global economy and the risks of a brewing “currency war,” the family reunions and deadly artillery attack served as sobering reminders that the Korean War, never formally ended, still continues.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Valérie Gelézeau . 2010. Beyond the ‘Long Partition’: From Divisive Geographies of Korea to the Korean ‘Meta-Culture.’ European Journal of East Asian Studies 9 (1): 124.

Samuel S Kim . 2000. North Korea in 1999: Bringing the Grand Chollima March Back In. Asian Survey 40 (1): 151–63.

Jae-Jung Suh . 2010. Truth and Reconciliation in South Korea: Confronting War, Colonialism, and Intervention in the Asia Pacific. Critical Asian Studies 42 (4): 503–24.

Jon M. Van Dyke , Mark J. Valencia , and Jenny Miller Garmendia . 2003. The North/South Korea Boundary Dispute in the Yellow (West) Sea. Marine Policy 27: 143.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *