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North Korean shells landed in the country’s own waters north of South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island, a South Korean military official said. He spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing military rules.

North Korea also carried out an apparent military exercise within sight of Yeonpyeong Island last month following the artillery assault on the island. Artillery shots were heard three days later as Army Gen. Walter Sharp, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, toured the island in a show of solidarity with Seoul and to survey damage.

The Nov. 23 attack — the first since the 1950-53 Korean War to target a civilian area — killed two South Korean marines and two civilian construction workers and reduced many homes and shops to charred rubble.

Gen. Han called the attack a violation of the U.N. charter and the armistice signed at the close of the war.

He said South Korea and the United States will quickly complete a plan to deal with North Korean provocations, which he said have become bolder.

“If North Korea were to additionally provoke us, we will respond in a very firm manner out of self-defense, and North Korea will have to pay a very deep price for the additional provocation,” Gen. Han said.

In Washington, the Obama administration announced it will send its No. 2 diplomat and three other top officials to China next week for talks on North Korea.

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, who will lead the delegation to Beijing, urged China to press North Korea harder on halting provocative acts.

Mr. Steinberg’s trip follows a meeting Monday between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in which they called on North Korea to stop what they described as belligerent behavior.

They also rejected China’s call for immediate talks with North Korea, saying the North first needed to prove its commitment to peace and follow through on commitments it made in past six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.

North Korea recently revealed a uranium-enrichment facility that could give it a second way to make atomic bombs. Despite that defiance, North Korea has indicated its readiness to resume the negotiations, which would provide it with much-needed aid and other concessions in exchange for disarmament.

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea disputes the maritime border drawn by U.N. forces in 1953 and considers the waters around the front-line islands its territory.