South Koreans worried after North Korea attack on island
- 23 November 2010
- From the section Asia-Pacific
South Korea says it has returned fire after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at one of its border islands, killing two marines.
The South's military was placed on its highest non-wartime alert after the shells landed on Yeonpyeong island. Tuesday's events have been described by analysts as the worst clashes since the Korean War ended.
Here, ordinary people in South Korea give their reaction.
Sohn Young-Jun, 28, consultant, Seoul
When I heard the news I was speechless. I'm really worried about what will happen next. Since the Korean War ended in 1953 there have been several attacks from North Korea.
In March, a North Korean submarine attacked a South Korean navy ship in the Yellow Sea. But the big difference with this incident is that it happened on Korean soil, that's what's making people nervous.
Some people think North Korea is showing off. I think Kim Jong-Il's son who will be his successor is trying to assert his power as his military power is weak.
Others say it's serious and the incident could lead to further military action.
I've heard that some people are getting away from Seoul to go further down south. But most people are staying where they are.
I'm with relatives in Seoul, just in case something happens. We take comfort in being together at times like this.
I think the situation will calm down - I hope so, otherwise there will be another war.
The media thinks we need to see how things develop. This thing is far from over.
Jin Hyuk Yun, Ganghwa Island
I live in Ganghwa (Kanghwa) Island, which is 10km from Yeonpyeong Island. We are in the target area of fire from North Korea because we live very near from the border. Around 70,000 people live here.
Even though the island wasn't hit by North Korea, people here think that this island and Backrung Island might be the next target.
Some people are now worried and stocking up on food and essential supplies - but they are not going to move away from their homeland. Because we are a small country and North Korea has wide range of missiles, people think it is useless to move to another city.
We worry that they will fire again but don't know when. Many people are monitoring the situation by watching the news on television.
James Hong, 33, Seoul
I was shocked when I first heard the news, but the shock went away once I heard more details. It's a North Korean classic - it happens once in a while, particularly when North Korea wants to lure South Korea and its allies to the negotiating table.
Normally these incidents are confined within the military. The difference this time is that they are directed towards civilians. This is the first time since the Korean war that the North has poured its missiles into a civilian territory.
Maybe it's because of the succession of power from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jonn-un. We almost think the father is showing the son a little bit of action.
I am not quite sure what will happen now. Our president announced that there'll be no extension of war but that South Korea would aggressively defend itself if these kind of incidents happen again.
Me and my friends are worried and angry. Not just about the act of provocation, but the human side. Why did they have to bomb civilian houses and facilities? Korean soldiers are not paid, everyone goes to a compulsory military service. The two marines that were killed - they weren't in that place by their own wishes and one of them was about to finish military service.
We need maturity and discretion but we shouldn't close our eyes to these kind of incidents. We shouldn't forget that now we are more open to the world than ever and North Korea doesn't want South Korea to be a success story.
Tae Kim, 31, events organiser, Seoul
As the father of an eight-week-old new-born facing mandatory national guard training this Friday, this situation does scare me.
Of course, news outlets are highlighting military analysts' comments regarding their views that it is highly unlikely this will escalate into a full-scale war, but there is always the "as long as North Korea does not continue or escalate their attack" comment attached.
I do know, however, that if North Korea wanted to start a war then, frankly, they could have levelled Seoul by now.
I discussed frankly with my wife what she and our son should do if the situation escalates.
I thought it would be highly beneficial if indeed an emergency occurs, and I hope that other families are discussing this in some degree or another, since the issue is foremost in our minds.
I also think it would help all of us if the Korean government, local, municipal, and national, could update us on what protocols and procedures to follow amid this heightened alert.