SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hours after North Korea sank a South Korean patrol boat Saturday, the president of the South and commander of U.S. forces in the country accused North Korea of violating the armistice that ended the Korean war.
A defiant North said the South fired first.
The 21-minute confrontation in the Yellow Sea is the worst border clash in recent years on the world's last Cold War frontier and killed four sailors and wounded 19. It dealt a new blow to Korean reconciliation efforts and embarrassed the South during its moment in the sun as host to the World Cup soccer tournament.
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and sent a 1,200-ton battleship to the poorly marked border, accompanied by a squadron of fighter jets.
Hopefully nothing comes of this, but I don't like the looks of it. I don't remember anything like this happening before, certainly not in the last couple years; that's not usually good news on a heavily militarized border, and you don't come much more heavily armed than this one.
On the other hand, if the political backlash forces China to choose sides and hastens the collapse of the North, I'll consider the blood of the South Korean sailors who died well spent, cold as that may be.