Yeonpyeong's displaced await Korea peace guarantee

Yeonpyeong islanders say they will not go back until there is some guarantee of peace

When you've lived through the shelling of your home, you can live anywhere.

For two weeks now, Chang In-sok has lived in a sauna near South Korea's main harbour, ever since the island he lived on - Yeonpyeong - was shelled by North Korean troops.

He and the other members of his village have set up camp together in the middle of the sauna's main hall.

Chang In-sok tells me they watched as the North Korean shells fell around them - and then they fled, along with hundreds of others.

Since the attack, the sauna has become a refuge for Yeonpyeong's residents - the first civilians to be bombed here since the Korean War.

They won't go back until there is some guarantee of peace, they say. And it doesn't look guaranteed at the moment.

South Korea has begun live-fire exercises across the country - something North Korea says it considers a provocation.

The rhetoric between the two sides has been growing since the Yeonpyeong attack, which left four South Koreans dead, including two civilians.

Handouts

The incident not only got the world's attention; it changed attitudes here at ground level too.

"Before I thought we were one people," Chang In-sok told me.

"I supported sending food aid to the North. But look what's come back to us - only shells and bullets. Now I think: if they fire 10 shells, we should fire back 40."

These days it is Chang In-Sok and his neighbours who are queuing up for handouts.

The corridors of the sauna lobby are stacked with crates of water and soft drinks - donations for the displaced families sheltering inside.

The smell of rotting food hangs over the camp. It's stuffy and there is little natural light.

It is no wonder people here report a high demand for sleeping pills and anti-depressants.

The first day of military exercises seems to have passed off peacefully.

But even so, the disputed line of control between the two countries is now the focus of some of the world's most powerful people: the US and Chinese presidents spoke earlier about how to contain the situation.

Yeonpyeong and its surrounding islands are one of the most contentious areas in this dispute.

The South Korean government has reportedly excluded the area from its military drills. Will it be enough to keep the peace?

Across the harbour from their old home, the sauna's new residents talk of little else.

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